The minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said there is no cause to worry over government borrowing to finance budget deficits.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, Ahmed assured Nigerians that the federal government is borrowing responsibly and investing in infrastructure.
This is even as she said the second quarter (Q2) 2021 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the strongest real GDP growth the country has recorded since Q4 2014.
It would be recalled that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently announced the GDP growth of 5.01 per cent for Q2 2021 for the country.
She explained that during the quarter Nigeria’s GDP grew by 5.01 per cent, year-on-year, in real terms, resulting in the third consecutive quarter growth since last year’s shutdown.
According to her, the 2021 Q2 growth rate reflects much better economic performance compared to the same period last year, which recorded -6.10 per cent growth rate.
“Furthermore, it was also better than the previous quarter (Q1) growth rate of 0.51 per cent on a year-on- year basis. Year to date, real GDP grew 2.70 per cent in 2021, compared to -2.18 per cent for the first half of 2020.
Broadly speaking, the services sector recorded a strong performance growing at 9.27 per cent during the quarter, representing the fastest growth in the services sector since 2010.
“Growth in Q2 2021 would have been much stronger had it not been for agriculture recording slower growth at 1.30 per cent.
“It was due to several bottlenecks currently negatively affecting the sector and due to the Industrial sector contracting by -123 per cent largely due to the over 12 per cent contraction in crude oil and natural gas production.
“Nonetheless, the non-oil sector was a major driver of growth during the quarter, recording a growth rate of nearly seven per cent which represents the fastest growth in the non-oil sector Q3 2014.
“Specific activities which recorded growth during the quarter include, trade, transportation, coal mining, metal ores, as well as insurance each of which recorded double digit growth,” she said.
Ahmed noted that these figures indicated that business and commercial activities were fully returning to pre-pandemic levels as restrictions in movement, business activities, as well as domestic and international travel had been relaxed.
“When these estimates are considered along with declining inflation rate which slowed down from 18.17 per cent at the end of Q1 to 17.75 per cent at the end of Q2 and as at July, stands at 17.38 per cent, it is clear that the economic recovery is gradually picking up steam. With favourable international economic conditions expected as economic activities and normalcy returns across major economies.
“And as local conditions continue to improve to allow business activities, the Nigerian economy is expected to maintain a steady path to more inclusive growth,” the minister said.