Panafrican News Agency

Insecurity forces Niger to spend more on securing borders - President Issoufou

Niamey, Niger (PANA) - Insecurity in Niger has led to the displacement of populations along the borders, the influx of refugees and the proliferation of illicit trafficking, forcing the country to commit significant military resources to confront cross-border armed groups and secure the borders, according to Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou.

"This military commitment has for several years put significant pressure on the state budget, to the detriment of social and development priorities, particularly through increased security spending and significant shortfalls in domestic resources," the Nigerien President said during a virtual high-level meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the economic challenges arising from the security crisis in the Sahel region.

According to President Issoufou, in Niger, security sector budget allocations averaged 16 per cent of total budget allocations between 2011 and 2020 for a target of 10 per cent.

On average, over the last six years (2014-2019), security spending has averaged 4.3 per cent of GDP per year.

Over the period 2011-2019, the overall budget deficit, including grants, increased from 2.1 pc of GDP in 2011 to 5.8 pc of GDP in 2020, for an EU norm of 3 pc.

"The importance of the resources committed to security has led the Nigerien government to undertake an audit of the expenditures made in this sector with a view to strengthening their a priori and a posteriori control," the Head of State recalled.

He stressed that these reforms also concern other sectors with the support of several technical and financial partners, recalling the appeal made in Brussels by Heads of State to the International Financial Institutions on the occasion of the conference on the financing of the G5 Sahel, held on February 23, 2018.

"In line with this appeal, we want security spending to be excluded from the calculation of the budget deficit, which will allow the G5 Sahel member states to have sufficient budgetary space," he appealed.

In the immediate term, he said the central concern of the Sahel States is to find ways and means to accelerate the process of mobilising the resources needed to finance the Priority Investment Program (PIP) 2019-2021, amounting to 1.9 billion euros for 40 priority projects.

To this end, President Issoufou called for strengthening of mobilization of IDA resources to complete the third year of the IDA cycle and have the resources needed to finance sustainable development.

"This is all the more imperative as the shock of the health situation of COVID-19 comes on top of the security shock as well as other shocks," he said.

He added that this shock has led Niger to lower its growth forecast for 2020 from 6.7 per cent to 1.7 per cent.

"The shock of the pandemic has led many economic communities such as the EU, ECOWAS, WAEMU to suspend their convergence pact," he noted, adding that "this serious crisis should lead the IMF and the World Bank to reflect on a new consensus, on a new paradigm".