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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday called on the G20 to extend and expand the debt suspension initiatives to Nigeria and other least developed countries.

He specifically canvased the position for developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing states facing fiscal and liquidity challenges.

Mr Buhari made the call while speaking at the 76th Session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

G20 members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia.

The president’s plea comes amid criticisms from Nigerians over his administration’s consistent borrowings.

His last request for an external loan was sent to the Senate on September 14, where he sought for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million loan from bilateral and multilateral organisations to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.

He also asked the lawmakers to approve grant components of $125 million.

The request came barely two months after the National Assembly approved his earlier request to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans contained in the initial 2018-2020 borrowing plan.

However, at the UN, President Buhari argued that developing countries have been faced with unsustainable debt burdens even before the pandemic.

‘‘The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of a new wave of deepening debt, where vital public financial resources are allocated to external debt servicing and repayments, at the expense of domestic health and financing for critical developmental needs,” he said.

‘‘I must commend the current initiatives by the international financial institutions and the G20 aimed at significantly mitigating the economic situation of the indebted countries and urge for more efforts in this regard.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to consider expansion and extension of the debt service suspension initiative to include all developing, least developed countries and small island developing states facing fiscal and liquidity challenges

‘In addition, a review of the eligibility criteria for debt suspension, including outright cancellation, is needed for countries facing the most severe challenges.”

Buhari also called for reforms of international trade that would engender recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, build resilience to future shocks and pursue transformative development strategies that can deliver the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

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