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THE total debt profile of Nigeria by June 30, 2021, was N35.465 trillion, compared to N33.1trn in the first quarter of the year, according to official statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. (Dr.) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed has, however, argued there is nothing to panic about the debt level, saying it is sustainable.
The debt profile consists of the federal government’s domestic and external debts, the 36 state governments, and the Federal Capital Territory.
A breakdown of the public debt figure under review indicates that external debt was N13.711trn, representing 38.66 per cent and domestic debt N21.754trn, representing 61.34 per cent of the total stock.
The federal government accounted for N11.846trn of external debt and N17.632trn of domestic debt, while the states and the FCT accounted for N1.865trn of the external debt and N4.122trn of the total domestic debt.
Ahmed maintained yesterday at the sidelines of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Conference at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, that the federal government had not been borrowing money “mindlessly” as it has emplaced a debt management framework chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
She said, “I must say that the borrowing the Federal Government has been doing is not borrowing that is unplanned. It is planned and guided by the debt management strategy. The plan is supervised by the Debt Management Board, which is chaired by His Excellency, the Vice President.”
However, the minister was conscious of the reality that the country was, by the ceaseless borrowing, stretching its revenues, which she pointed out were not at the level government expected them to be.
“We currently have revenue to GDP ratio of 8-9 per cent. Our target is to get to, at least, 18 per cent, which will be a healthy threshold that we would be servicing our debts without too much strain,” she said, adding, “the fact we have been able to service the debts (domestic and external) showed that we are very much on track.”
The minister said the government had been engaging with the capital market as she expressed delight over the retail investment policy the NGX and MTN adopted. These initiatives, she noted, would make investments in the capital markets seamless and easier.
Ahmed revealed that the government had set up a Poverty Investment and Crisis Investment Fund, noting that Nigeria’s weakest link was the level of revenues, which she disclosed was increasing daily.
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