Nigeria’s minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has asked Nigerians to brace up for financial difficulty because the country is low on cash.
Making this known in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, Dr Iweala said it will be a difficult year for Nigeria financially because of the cash crunch the country is currently experiencing.
She however denied that the country was broke, noting that with the financial assets the President Goodluck Jonathan administration had been able to build over the years, the nation’s cash flow would improve over time.
She said: “Under this administration, we began the work of truly diversifying the economy and the proof of that is that much of the growth in this past few years that has come to the country has come not from the oil sector but actually from non-oil sectors like agriculture, telecommunications, manufacturing and the creative industries.
“The fact that oil prices fell by 50 per cent makes it very difficult in terms of cash flow, but Nigeria is asset rich and that is why when people say the country is broke, I say no. In economic terms, with the kind of assets we have, we should be able to realise some of them to improve our cash flow but it is true that this will be a very difficult year because of the cash crunch.
“However, we need to see this drop in oil prices as an opportunity. I gave a talk on Nigeria beyond oil. I really think with the growth of the country based on non-oil sectors, we ought to see the fall in oil prices as an opportunity to further the diversification that has started under this administration.”
The minister of finance has also offered the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, a word of advice concerning the diversification of the country’s revenue sources.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday, April 15, in Washington DC, spoke on the theme: “Beyond the oil” at a forum tagged: “A conversation with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”, said the result of the rebasing of the economy demonstrated that there are diverse sources of revenue which the government can tap from.
She said that the government can actually increase its revenue profile by depeening and expanding its tax collection drive.