Nigeria’s foreign reserve currently stands at $38 billion (N6.3 trillion), according to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The Minister, who spoke yesterday in Abuja, at the Public Affairs Forum organised by the office of Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to President Goodluck Jonathan, gave assurance that the economy was stable and the Gross Domestic product, GDP, was growing at over 6 percent.
“One of the key things I want to tell you is that we have tried to keep this economy stable under this administration. All these things you are seeing – the investments in roads, the investments in industries cannot happen if your economy lacks stability.
“If you wake up worrying about inflation; if you wake up worrying about exchange rate, you know Nigerians watch the exchange rate every single day. If you wake up worrying about no growth then you cannot even talk about investing in the sector.
“So the number one task that every government delivers in every country- America, UK, Nigeria- is stability. One thing you have to say for the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan is that it has been able to deliver on macro-economic stability for the past three years.
“The exchange rate, yes, it has gone up and down, it fluctuates, but it has been relatively stable. The inflation rate has come down from about 12 per cent last year to about 8.5 per cent. The reserves are at $38 billion today and enough to cushion us for 5 months<" Okonjo-Iweala said.
She added that the country had also been able to shore up its Excess Crude Account. @We have been able to put a little more into the Excess Crude Account," the minister said, adding that Nigeria’s fiscal deficit is one of the world's lowest at just over 1 percent of GDP.
While she noted that the present administration in the country has worked hard to cut down borrowing from N1.3 trillion in 2010 to N571 billion in 2014, the minister said the government will continue working to reduce it further. "The debt stock is very high because of past borrowing but will continue to bring it down. That means we must be prudent in the way we spend and we must also be very fast to try to organize additional revenues”.
The minister admitted Nigeria's over-dependence on oil revenue, a situation which has put the country on the edge as global oil prices continue to fall, as well as declining crude oil production/ She therefore stressed the need for the country to expand its non-oil revenue as a matter of urgency.
"We are too depending on oil. The price of oil is now coming down. The quantities are also not as large as they used to be. So we have to plan differently. That is why we have to rely more on non-oil.
"I am convinced that this economy can generate additional $3 billion that can help us finance our expenditures," she said.