Uche Usim, Abuja
The Debt Management Office on Tuesday disclosed that Nigeria’s total debt has risen to N27.7 trillion as at June 30, an indication that N3.32 trillion was added to the existing debt stock in one year.
According to the DMO, the Federal Government owed N20.42 trillion as of June 30, 2019, while the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had a total debt stock of N5.28 trillion
Further breakdown shows that the debt profile comprises N8.32 trillion ($27.16bn) external debt and N17.38trn borrowed locally.
The nation’s public debt, which stood at N22.38 trillion as of June 2018, increased to N24.39trn in December 2018 and N24.95trn in March 2019.
Several economic experts have raised the red flag over the rapidly-swelling debt profile without corresponding investments to guarantee repayment.
They fear the country may be boxed into a debt trap.
More so, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria at its last meeting in September frowned at the rising public debt and described it as one of the headwinds to the nation’s growth prospects.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said in August that the country did not have any debt challenge but a challenge with generating sufficient revenue.
“There is a lot of insensitivity around the level of our debt. I want to restate that our debt is not too high; what we have is a revenue problem. Our debt is still very much within a reasonable fiscal limit. In fact, amongst our comparative countries, we are the least in terms of borrowing,” she had said.
Industry watchers have urged the government to check its insatiable appetite for external borrowing.