Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, on Friday, stated that the Federal Government is not planning to borrow N2 trillion pension funds, for infrastructure development of the country.
Ahmed, at the Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie, UUBO, second private equity summit, in Lagos, explained that the National Economic Council, NEC, only set up a Committee to encourage Pension Fund Managers to invest in infrastructure development.
“It is not true that the government is borrowing the pension fund”, NAN quoted her as saying.
“What we agreed, is to design a product that pension fund Managers will find attractive enough to invest in, that will give them free safe returns.
“Right now, the regulator, PENCOM, actually allows pension funds Managers to invest up to 20 percent of their money in infrastructure.”
Ahmed said that now, pension funds Managers do not have an opportunity to invest in Open Market Operation, OMO, anymore.
“We are actually working to design products which they can uptake, and we are also considering in addition to regulation, whether we should amend the Act, to allow them do other things”, she stated.
On borrowings, Ahmed explained that the government is working very hard to reduce domestic borrowing.
“In 2015, the total government stock that we had was 80 percent domestic, and 20 percent foreign.
“But we are gradually changing that; the debt management strategy is to move the ratio to 60 percent domestic, and 40 percent external, and now it is 35 percent external borrowing.
“This is to give room for the private sector to borrow, and to reduce the cost of debt servicing”, Ahmed said.
Speaking on the Value Added Tax, VAT, increment, Ahmed who admitted that it would contribute to inflation rise, said that it would moderate over time.
“When you increase any form of tax, it leads to inflation, but it is a temporary thing; after some months it will moderate”, the Minister said.
In January, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Finance Bill, which enforced the new tax regime into law.