The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has accused western powers of being a stumbling block to Nigeria’s plan to improve power output through the use of coal. Adeosun said this on Wednesday in Washington during a discussion on the importance of addressing infrastructure gaps in developing countries at the World Bank, International Monetary Fund General Meetings.
She said that improving power supply was the corner stone of the current administration’s goal towards economic development, yet finding it difficult to get support from western community. “We want to build a coal power plant because we are a country blessed with coal, yet we have power problem. So it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it will make sense to build a coal power plant.
“However, we are being blocked from doing so, because it is not green. This is not fair because they have an entire western industralisation that was built on coal fired energy.
“This is the competitive advantage that was used to develop Europe, yet now that Nigeria wants to do it, they say it’s not green, so we cannot.
“They suggest that we use solar and wind, which is the more expensive. So yes, Africa must invest in its infrastructure, but we must also make sure that the playing field is level,” she said.
Adeosun said that in spite of the need for foreign borrowing to finance the country’s infrastructure gap, the strategy was to get the cheapest money. She said Nigeria’s debt to GDP remained very low but that the cost of servicing those loans was high.
“Right now, we are being very conservative about our debt and we are trying to get the cheapest money possible from multilateral agencies. We are working very hard to make sure that we get multilateral funds first before we go to the euro bond market, which is a little bit more expensive,” she said.
She added that the country’s strategy was to get public private investments because even if Nigeria dedicated five years’ full budget to bridging infrastructure gap, it would still be insufficient.
Meanwhile, a report released by the IMF showed that global debt was currently at a record high of 152 trillion dollars. The Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF, Mr Vitor Gaspar at a news conference, said the debt was 225 per cent of World Gross Domestic Product.
The report showed that 100 trillion dollars was debt of the private sector, while the remaining was public debt. To address the growing problem, the report suggested targeted fiscal interventions in form of government sponsored programmes to help restructure private debt
“Fiscal policy cannot do it alone – a comprehensive action using all three policy prongs, that is monetary, fiscal and structural policy.”