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Buhari Begs UN For Debt Cancellation

Ebuka Daniel

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the United Nations to consider expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to include countries facing liquidity problems.

He also begged the UN to cancel the debt of countries facing severe financial challenges.

The President said this on Friday at the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations.

Buhari said, “On the issue of debt, we have seen that developing countries have been faced with unsustainable debt burdens even before the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of a new wave of deepening debt, where vital public financial resources are allocated to external debt servicing and repayments at the expense of domestic health and financing for critical developmental needs.

” I must commend the current initiatives by the international financial institutions and the G20 aimed at significantly mitigating the economic situation of the indebted countries and urge for more efforts in this regard.

“Therefore, there is an urgent need to consider expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to include all Developing, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.

“In addition, a review of the eligibility criteria for debt suspension, including outright cancellation, is needed for countries facing the most severe challenges.”

The request by the President is in line with the current debt level of Africa’s largest economy.

According to the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s debt has reached N87.2trn, an equivalent of $33.1bn.

External debt according to official data is N12trn or $32.85bn in foreign currency.

The President recently sent a letter to the National Assembly seeking for more foreign loans of $4.054bn, €710m and $125m external loans.

In his speech, Buhari further assured the UN that the country is building a climate friendly economy in line with the UN goal.

He said considering the impact of climate change on the globe, Africa’s biggest economy is working on a transition to a low carbon economy in line with   achieving the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“In these circumstances, we intend to build a climate-resilient economy that effectively aligns with the SDGs and that has great potential to unlock the full opportunities in different sectors of the economy, while protecting the resources for present and future generations. I know, in several ways, this is also a familiar story in many countries,” he added.

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