The acting Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Chukwuyere Anamekwe, has described as worrisome the huge level of borrowing to buoy budget shortfall and payment of salaries and wages, saying it was glaring evidence that the country was facing a huge financial crisis.
He said concerted efforts must be made to revert the trend through fiscal discipline, economic diversification, boosting export, and plugging revenue leakages, among others.
Anamekwe stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at a retreat organised by Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for members of the Technical Sub-committee On Cash Management (TSCM) themed: “Enthroning fiscal discipline in Nigeria’s public Financial management: A Clarion Call to Stakeholders”
“We have to borrow to augment payment of salaries and wages. This shows we are in very difficult times. Government income is highly challenged,” he stated.
“The theme and objective of the retreat couldn’t have been better captioned, given the fiscal challenges at the moment. Records available indicate that due to dwindling revenues, the Treasury had to resort to other sources in order to augment the payment of Federal Government public servants! “There is an increase in government expenditure due to increasing security challenges and social needs of the citizenry”.
The acting AGF noted that the myriads of socio-economic challenges call for an articulated deployment of fiscal discipline and strategies that will help mitigate them.
“Now that these challenges stare us in the face, you are all expected at this gathering to come out with ideas that will push us through.
“Therefore, we must all, at this retreat strive towards identifying the challenges to revenue generation and other means of enhancing inflow into Federal Government coffers; ensuring the cutting down the cost of governance in the most acceptable way and ensuring synergy amongst and within stakeholders in the sub-committee”, he added.
Anamekwe also charged the sub-committee to ensure that it gives quality and profitable advise to the Federal Cash Management Committee.
He applauded the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, for her consistent support in approving them, stressing that the gesture has continued to help in improving the capacities of members and stakeholders; thereby getting them more acquainted with Nigeria’s fiscal challenges and other cash management related matters.
He urged the attendees to ensure that the event helps in the advancement of the desired recovery strategies since it has become a veritable tool providing the needed platform for sharing quality information and knowledge that help to keep public servants abreast with public financial management reforms; managing fiscal challenges, evolving effective and efficient cash management tool, among others.
In his remarks, Director Funds, OAGF, Mr Sabo Mohammed, called for deeper fiscal discipline which requires that governments maintain fiscal positions that are consistent with macroeconomic stability and sustained economic growth.
“It warrants avoiding excessive borrowing and debt accumulation. It’s expected that discussions at this forum will help in improving the capacities of members/stakeholders and getting them more acquainted with Nigeria’s fiscal challenges and advance recovery strategies that will enable effective management, and avoid fiscal deficits.
“Fiscal deficits often indicate a variety of adverse domestic and external shocks that affect budgets directly as well as through their impact on the economic environment. Indebtedness, over the past years, call for concerns”, he said.
In their goodwill messages, the representatives of the Debt Management Office and the Central Bank of Nigeria called for prudence in managing the finances of the government.
They also harped on economic diversification, boosting local production and export to fatten the foreign reserves.