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Enugu is among poorest states in Nigeria, shouldn’t take another N170bn loan – Ex-Minister warns Governor Mbah



A former minister and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in the 2023 general elections in Enugu State, Frank Nweke Jnr, has said that the state is currently the 10th poorest and fourth most indebted in the country..…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>....PROCEED.FULL.READING>>>

Nweke, who said this while reacting to the N170billion loan recently approved by the Enugu State House of Assembly for the state Governor, Peter Mbah, said that Mbah’s administration seeks to open the state’s loan portfolio with an 182.79% increase above the N93 billion domestic debt accumulated over the eight years of former Governor Ifeanyi Ugwanyi administration.

Nweke, who is former Minister of Information, said in a release that the loan amount exceeded the 2023 total budget of the state which was presented in December 2022.

According to him, Enugu State’s debt per capita ratio, which represents how much debt the government owes on behalf of each citizen, currently stands at N23,907, and that with the additional N170 billion loan approved by the state Assembly, per capita debt ratio in the state will double and triple over the next year.

He said, “With an alarming internal and external debt profile of approximately N183 Billion, it is baffling to see the Enugu State government attempt to borrow an additional N170 Billion.

“In effect, this administration seeks to open its loan portfolio with an 182.79% increase above the N93 Billion domestic debt accumulated over the eight years of the Ifeanyi Ugwanyi administration.

“It is also interesting to note that the loan amount exceeds the 2023 total budget presented in December 2022.

“This will take our State above the stipulated borrowing limit by the Debt Management Office by 226% and will place Enugu State as the 4th most indebted State in the country.

“In the past year, I have spoken extensively about the poor fiscal conditions of the state and the need for drastic cost-cutting measures and strategic prioritisation to pull us out of the economic morass that the previous government had plunged us into.

“The Ugwuanyi administration closed with a domestic debt of N93,197,207,627.52 and an external debt of $120,667,083.51. The prospect of further increasing our debt profile is not in the best interest of our economy.

“At present, Enugu State’s debt per capita ratio, which represents how much debt the government owes on behalf of each citizen, stands at N23,907. This additional N170 Billion will double and triple our debt per capita ratio over the next year.

“This means that the government will owe an estimated N67,500 on behalf of each citizen, which is a far cry from the zero percent poverty headcount index promised by this administration.”

Nweke further noted that the state spent N3,506.84 per capita on education and N1,559.1 per capita on health in 2022.

He said that “Enugu is currently the 10th poorest state in Nigeria and the second poorest in the Southeast with a poverty rate of 58.13% behind Ebonyi State.

“The stagnant economic situation in the past decade begs the question of what the previous debts incurred were spent on. Roads, hospitals, and schools are in deplorable states.

“Teachers’ salaries and pensions remained unpaid for several months despite the huge sums quoted through the years.

“While I am not against borrowing for development purposes, it should be consistent with the Open Governance Partnership requirements for transparency and accountability, per the provisions of the Debt Management Office for fiscal responsibility, and with the citizens apprised of the purposes of these facilities. This recent development raises several concerns.”…CONTINUE.FULL.READING>>>

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