Foremost Nigerian economist and finance maven, Dr. Ngozi Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, was recently honored by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria for her immense impact on the development of the nation.
Speaking virtually during the 2021 Fellowship Investiture programme of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria which was held Saturday in Lagos, Iweala, said Nigeria’s banking sector has contributed in no small measure to the development of the country as well as the continent. She, however, stated so much needs be done.
Okonjo-Iweala was among the 237 fellowship awardees at the event comprising 14 Honorary Fellows, 77 Elected Fellows, and 146 Honorary Senior Members.
“I’m honoured to be made a fellow of a prestigious Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.
“I want to thank the institute for the excellent work it has done to uphold the professional and ethical standards of the Nigerian Banking Industry as well as its effort to educate new generations of bankers.
“Nigeria’s banking sector has contributed immensely to the development of the country and indeed the continent; there is still so much to be done and our financial services industry including the emerging FinTech sector has a strong role to play,” she said.
According to Okonjo-Iweala, the theme chosen by the CIBN at the event, “Nigeria’s Rising Debt Profile: Issues and Implications for Sustainable Economic Development”, was an important one.
She buttressed that the institution already had the necessary professional insight on issues on debt and debt sustainability, be it at the individual, institutional or national level.
According to Fiscal policy partner and Africa Tax Leader at Price Waterhouse Coopers, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, who spoke on the theme at the event, Nigeria’s public debt over the past five years (2015-2020) had expanded by an average of 21.02 percent while the economic growth figure averaged 0.15 percent.
Oyedele said that revenue, on the other hand, expanded by an average of 5.19 percent.
“By implication, the rate of expansion in public debt in Nigeria is fast outweighing the revenue mobilization capacity of the government.
“Consequently, the debt to GDP ratio expanded from 20.32 percent in 2015 to 34.98 percent in 2020 (IMF).
“This pace of increase in the public debt stock, particularly, raised the fiscal sustainability concerns on Nigeria,’’ he said.
The CIBN President, Dr. Bayo Olugbemi, urged stakeholders in the banking and finance industry to continually support efforts and initiatives of government aimed at improving the economy toward inclusive growth and development.
He, however, urged the government to do all to minimize excessive borrowing.
“I would like to propose that we continually strive to rein in our rising debt profile. Just like the Latin Americans, let us embrace import substitution models that ultimately promote homegrown products and services, economic growth, and sustainable development.
“We must also pursue the path of efficiency, ensuring that all reoccurring costs that may potentially lead to excessive borrowing are reduced to the barest minimum,’’ he said.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala boasts of over 30 years of experience spanning across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America and was formerly Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Since its creation in 2000. The two-time minister was appointed World Trade Organization head in February, 2021