Time for Nigeria, other to Improve Climate investment – Wale Edun
By Fatima Saka
Finance Minister Wale Edun has said it’s time for Nigeria and other African countries to invest in climate change, adding that opportunities are now available for foreign and domestic investors.
Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr Wale Edun made this known on Saturday at a press briefing in Marrakech, Morocco.
Edun acknowledged that more work is needed but believes that Nigeria is on the right path towards economic recovery, job creation, and inclusivity for women and young people.
The Minister noted that some countries now see Nigeria’s progress as an inspiration but lack the courage to take similar steps.
According to him, “regarding the opportunity to attract investment, there have been many conversations and in all honesty the narrative is that with the bold courageous steps that Nigeria has taken, we are now at the forefront almost number one on people’s list when they want to look at where to invest, that is now the narrative.
“There is more to be done but Nigeria is definitely on the right path, taking the right decisions for the economy to recover and for it to attract foreign direct
investment as well as domestic investment in order to recover true economic growth, job creation and at the same time achieve inclusivity of women and young people.”
The finance minister added that “the opportunity we have had, not so much to stand in front of people and showcase but that they get the opportunity within this environment to understand even more clearly what has been done and the truth is there are some countries here that say that ‘these are steps we would like to take but they do not believe they have essentially the courage to do it’.
With regards to debt restructuring, the finance minister said the goal is to improve or modify the terms of the debt so that the borrower can better meet their obligations.
Edun agreed that waiting to restructure debt is not always the best approach but instead suggested being proactive and looking for opportunities to improve the conditions under which the debt was borrowed.
However, he pointed out that given the current global economic climate, debt is becoming less affordable due to high interest rates.
He noted that, if a borrower has access to cheap financing, they should take advantage of it as long as they are comfortably servicing the debt.
In situations where a borrower can afford to do so, they should try to pay down debt in order to avoid it becoming a burden.
Speaking about more government borrowing but this time from the Central Bank, the finance minister underscored President Tinubu’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, rule of law, and a responsible approach to managing government finances, particularly in the context of borrowing from the central bank.
According to him, one of President Tinubu’s key priorities is to adhere to the legal framework and regulations already in place and this, the minister explained, extends to the President’s commitment to staying within the limits for “Ways and Means”.
Edun emphasized that President Tinubu is aware of the importance of fiscal responsibility, even though he may resort to overdraft borrowing, “his goal is to ensure that the government doesn’t exceed the statutory limits set for such borrowing.
Moreover, the minister said that there has been a realization of the need to reduce the reliance on borrowing from the central bank, which might have been excessive or appeared to be spiraling out of control in the past.
In the talks with the World Bank on $1.5 billion budget support, the minister confirmed that Nigeria was in talks with the World Bank to access the facility.
According to Wale Edun, “it has free money through IDA International Development Association. It is for the poorer countries and right now I think we qualify as one of the countries that can borrow in the normal window of World Bank funding but also some concessionary IDA funding and that means that effectively the interest rate will be zero.
“So, therefore, there is no stigma attached to qualifying for World Bank funding to help finance development. In this particular case, it has long been in the pipeline, and we are hoping that the funding will come through soon.
“A lot of hard work is being done. There is a Federal Executive Council meeting on Monday, that should be able to discuss this, as well as other initiatives for financing on reasonable terms. We have talked about the high costs of money, the World Bank money is the cheapest”.
Speaking on the current level of hardship Nigerians are going through as a result of putting an end to subsidies on fuel and exchange rate unification, the finance minister said “these are painful reforms and Mr. President is a man of empathy who promised not to leave the vulnerable and poor behind.
“As you know there is a set of interventions being rolled out which, day by day, should improve things. More food has been grown, fertilizers are being released, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) transport is the order of the day, while the government buses, conversion kits are on the way, there is take-up of that initiative by the private sector.
“So day by day we are moving closer to affordable and even cleaner energy simply because the price of petroleum products has been put where it really stands rather than having cheap fuel which is below the market price and below its value. Now you are seeing the right value and that is making the move to cleaner and finer energy.
He also added that one of the benefits of some of the measures taken, “is the fact that there has been a 30 per cent reduction in smuggling of petroleum products across the border, I think is a major achievement of that all important step to remove fuel subsidy.
Meanwhile, the Minister has been appointed as the Chairman of the African Governors’ Forum of the World Bank.
The African Governors’ Forum is a platform for African finance ministers and central bank governors to engage with the World Bank on issues of mutual interest.
The African Caucus was established in 1963 to strengthen the voice of African Governors.
According to the statement: “World Bank Appointment: Nigeria’s Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Mr. Wale Edun has been appointed to Chair the African Governors’ Forum of the World Bank.
“This marks the first time Nigeria has assumed the role of Chairman in 60 years.
‘’The appointment presents a unique opportunity for Nigeria and the implementation of President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.’’
According to the IMF’s guiding principles for the caucus, the forum’s Chairman is determined by rotation based on the alphabetical order of African countries.
This system ensures that each country takes its turn to lead the group, preventing one nation from chairing the forum twice while others have yet to assume the role.