Amidst Rising External Loans: Buhari Seeks Debt Relief For Nigeria, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged countries in Europe and multilateral lenders to consider the restructuring of debt portfolios of African countries as a full relief towards helping them tackle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president made the case on Tuesday at the Financing Africa Summit in Paris, France, less than a year when the federal government rejected overtures for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October 2020.

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Since then, Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debts keep increasing while oil revenue plummets as governments at the federal and state levels struggle to fund capital and recurrent commitments.

President Buhari on Tuesday wrote the National Assembly for approval to borrow fresh $6.183 billion (N2.343 trillion) to fund the 2021 budget deficit of N5.602 trillion.

Speaking in Paris on the theme, “External Financing and Debt Treatment”, Buhari said the fall in commodity prices as COVID-19 took a toll on the global economy further slowed growth in some countries and strained health facilities.

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Buhari was quoted in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, saying: “It is in this vein that we solicit the support of the French government with its influence in the European Union to lend its voice to the efforts being made to mobilise additional resources for developing economies most especially Africa in order to strengthen the quantum of investments to our economies.”

He noted that many African countries already suffered a debt distress and the suspension of debt services by France and G20 was insufficient.

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He said more sustainable and affordable finance solutions were required, including debt relief and additional debt restructuring.

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