The Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has called on the government to replace existing debt stocks with asset-linked debt to ease the debt servicing burden.
It gave the advice at its council meeting on practical steps that can be taken by the government to boost revenue and foreign exchange inflows.
The director-general of LCCI, Dr. Chinyere Almona, said Nigeria’s fiscal and financial challenges have been of concern to several stakeholders including the LCCI, adding that, government has increasingly resorted to debt to finance recurrent and capital obligations in the face of dwindling revenue.
“The country’s debt situation has become worrisome with debt servicing consuming a significant share of the revenue. The debt service to revenue ratio for the period of January to May 2021 stood at about 98 per cent, up from 83 per cent recorded in 2020 according to the budget implementation report,” she pointed out.
According to her, Nigeria is an asset-rich nation with hundreds of large state-owned companies, valuable parcels of land and built structures in prime commercial locations.
“These assets are grossly underutilised and contribute too little to the country’s fiscal and financial situation because their market values are currently not known. There is therefore a need for the government to take urgent steps to establish the market values of the assets, securitise the corporate assets and commercialise the real estate assets to raise revenue for the government and foreign exchange inflows for the country,” she urged.
She noted that there was a need to replace existing debt stocks with asset-linked debt to ease the debt servicing burden; attract greenfield FDI into publicly-listed state-owned companies and generate new revenue streams from commercialised real estate portfolios.
LCCI proposed to the government at both federal and state levels to; identify public assets, determine the worth of these assets and deal origination and consummation protocol.
Almona added that Nigeria needs to do an official identification of its assets in terms of location, purpose and usage contained in a national asset register, saying that corporate assets should be securitised via public share issuance to raise equities.