High debt profile not worrisome to us, says Edo Govt

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GOING by the record of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Edo State is trailing Lagos State on Nigeria’s foreign debt profile list.

However, the government (Edo) said that “there is cause for alarm”, allaying fears that the state’s foreign debt profile was worrisome.

It argued that the credits which the state enjoys were accessed as a result of the state’s transparent governance and prudent financial management.

Lagos, Edo, Kaduna and Cross River states, in that order, topped the list of sub-nationals with high external debts, according to the DMO record.

In a statement, Special Adviser to the Edo State Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said the state government prioritises sustainable development and judicious use of state funds, which is what has enabled it to promptly access the low-interest credit from multilateral organisations.

He argued that it was erroneous to assume that foreign credits are bad, noting that they help to fast-track development at the lowest cost of funds possible.

The statement reads: “Foreign credits usually come with single, lower digit interest rates, ranging from one to five per cent. They carry many years of moratorium, that is, a period within the tenure of the loan when the borrower is not required to make repayment. This gives the borrower more time to bring development to the people and therefore increase the capacity to repay the loan.

“Contrary to opinion by less informed people that ranking as the second state in the country after Lagos with the highest foreign debts portfolio is a negative feat, it is actually a positive development because this simply indicates that Edo State, like Lagos and Kaduna states, are the few states in the country with the requisite level of transparency in governance to access the huge international pool of development financing to help improve infrastructure and enhance the living standards of the ordinary people.”

He stressed that what the most important was that the Governor Obaseki-led government is putting every penny sourced from the Federation Account, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and international development financing to judicious use to improve the lives of the people.

He said: “In less than three years, Obaseki’s government has constructed more roads than previous governments were able to do in 16 years. We have revamped and rebuilt basic education almost to the point of re-invention.

“There is a primary healthcare revolution currently going on in Edo State, as well as the big-ticket transactions of the Benin River Port, Benin Industrial and Enterprise Park, the Benin Modular Refinery Project and many more, where we are making steady progress.”

According to him, many of the states that are ranked low on foreign debts in the DMO records would have preferred that they had the requisite governance structure and transparency in financial management to access funds from international development finance institutions.

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