Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, has said the country is targeting multi-trillion-dollar climate change financing. Edun stated this on Tuesday, at a one-day retreat organised by the Senate Committee on Appropriation, chaired by Senator Solomon Adeola, titled, “Budget and Budgetary Process: Improved Outcomes in 2024.”
The minister, who just returned from the climate change conference in Dubai, tagged COP28, said there were series of opportunities that could be tapped into by the various agencies to secure funding from donor agencies eager to play a role in climate change.
He noted that the focus of the current administration in the country was to reduce deficit by focusing on concessioning funding and climate financing, among others.
The minister said, “The direction of the government is to reduce budget deficits, place emphasis on borrowing, particularly reducing foreign debts and capital market expensive borrowing.
“At the meeting we just concluded in Dubai, the IMF Managing Director said the world is still suffering the shocks of the major global incidences, like the COVID-19, and that the fiscal space is exhausted.
“Nigeria’s fiscal space is exhausted, and the solution is that we have to focus on concessioning funding and climate financing.
“There is an estimated $1trillion per annum to be spent for climate change. Just on Tuesday (Monday), the UAE announced $30 billion for climate action. Another $1.5 billion was announced by a global group.
“What that means is that as we move to fund the N27.5 trillion budget next year, our first port of call must be to target the cheapest concessionary financing, including the climate change financing.
“The federal government, three days ago, signed a €100 million equity foreign direct investment for re-afforestation in the Mangrove Forest in Cross River State. We will go and search for similar types of transactions as much as possible.”
The minister added, “Our 2024 proposed budget states clearly that there is room for privatisation, maximising our own assets without borrowing.
“We have to be brave, courageous and innovative to make sure that we use the financial market to take our fiscal stress down so as to reduce our debt servicing and reduce our emphasis on borrowing.”
He said, “One of the ways available is that there are now countries and organisations willing to invest in our economy more than ever before.
“We need to optimise the resources we have, particularly oil resources. The world is turning to CNG.
“Hence a few days ago, the president launched an initiative of electric vehicles. Major manufacturers of electric vehicles have started expressing interest and started discussions with us on their determination to establish electric vehicles plants in Nigeria.
“Such is the opportunity for our market here and such is the attraction the new innovation has attracted to us as a nation.”
On his part, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, said his ministry had developed a database to attract foreign direct investment into the country.
Bagudu said, “There is a National Integrated Infrastructure Master plan, which is in the custody of the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning. It has over 19,000 projects.
“We have commenced meetings with stakeholders in the infrastructure space, the MDAs, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the infrastructure Bank, the DMOs, and the NIPC, to analyse them and take them to Investment Grid.
“This is to provide adequate information to investors. The 2024 budget also has provision for the Infrastructure Project Development Funds for that purpose.”
He explained that there were plans to block leakages by stopping some MDAs’ disregard for accountability.
Bagudu added, “President Bola Tinubu has asked the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to ensure that all GOEs operate accounts that could only be debited on the authority of the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and the Accountant General of the Federation.”
President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, stressed the need for aggressive revenue drive.
Akpabio said all the revenue generating agencies must rise to the occasion.
No matter how beautiful the budget was, it would not work if there was no money to spend, he added.
He stated, “My message is that all the GOEs must gear up to raise more revenues, block all the loopholes, leakages and wastages so that the 2024 budget would be successfully implemented.
“The senate and the House of Representatives are very determined to pass the budget before the end of this year to continue with the tradition of the January to December budget cycle.
“It, however, depends on the attitudes of the ministers and the MDAs to the budget defence sessions, which will start immediately.
“I will urge the ministers to take the exercise very seriously by bringing all the heads of agencies under their supervision while coming to the National Assembly.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Sani Musa, stressed the need to have the statistics of all the national assets, which is almost non-existent.
According to him, “Some government owned enterprises were keeping the assets as if they owned them. There is the need for us to harmonise and get a national registry for our assets”
The keynote speaker at the occasion, Professor Ayo Teriba, a Professor of Economics, expressed confidence that the country had the potential to meet its revenue projections for 2024 based on the performances of the 2023 budget in the last quarter of this year.
Teriba called for a paradigm shift from over-reliance on petroleum revenue and tax to leverage marketing the country’s assets.
He said, “There is the need to take 35 percent of the government-owned enterprises assets to the market to generate some liquidity.
“Apart from GOEs, national assets also included real estates. There is no MDA that does not have one choice real estate or the other and most of them are lying their fallow.
“We need to know the current value of the real estate of the MDAs and the value of their current usage.”
Teriba also stressed the need to develop infrastructure that could generate revenues through a public-private sector participation. He said the country should focus attention on what it owned rather than what it owed as debt.
He said, “We talk about what we own as against what we owe. We have assets that can attract foreign direct investment which can liquidate our N89 trillion foreign debt.”
Sunday Aborisade in Abuja