The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has backed the Federal Government into taking loans to expand infrastructure in the country, saying it is in the nation’s interest.
The former governor of Lagos State stated this during a forum with newsmen in Abuja. He noted that the country would not make meaningful progress without taking loans to boost infrastructure.
According to him, ”It is in our interest that government does some borrowing and spends it on investment because that sector contributes to the Gross Domestic Products and contributes to employment.
“ I do not support irresponsible borrowing so let us be clear; there has to be some sense to this.
“So long as you are borrowing to invest and you are investing in assets then we can have this debate from morning till night and I don’t think I will come out unsuccessful.
“I agree everybody must keep their eyes open about how money is being borrowed, what it is being used for and whether the debt is sustainable.
“We just delivered a rail programme through the Ministry of Transportation; that is a 100-year asset that you have got now.
“So some economists say wait until you gather the money, that’s bad economics,” the minister said.
He stated further that many developed countries around the world create a super economy through borrowing, and the recent loans obtained by the Federal Government would not mortgage the future of Nigerians.
“We came from a background of colonialism where we were told that if you go borrowing you go sorrowing, so, my parents and their generation told us never to borrow.
“But while we were not borrowing, those who led the rules started borrowing.“The largest debtors in the world today are from the West. But with borrowing, they have created super economies, built massive train terminals, massive airports, schools and hospitals.
“And you know what is happening, we go to use them and they charge us, so who is paying?
“I have heard people say they are mortgaging the future of people, as we are holding this meeting, one new baby has arrived, if you don’t prepare for him you make that future bleak.
“As at the time we were building Lekki Bridge in Lagos, it was N29 billion, the child that was born then in 2010 is going to be 11 this year.
“If his mother carrying his pregnancy had crossed that bridge at any time, he used that bridge before he was born and we had secured that asset for him before he arrived.
He further stated that “So, if you have anybody in any venture capital, finance house, mortgage bank, it is because the government is borrowing that they can pay their salary.
“So, borrowing is not a sin, it is part of the essence of keeping the economy growing. And the armchair economists talking about public expenditure, for example, who has never run a government must be careful what they feed to the public,’’ Fashola added.