By Henry Umoru
THE rising debt profile of Nigeria on yearly basis came to the front burner, yesterday, as senators began debate on the general principles of the 2019 Appropriation Bill of N8.83 trillion presented before the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Senators, who raised the alarm over the increasing debt profile, however, called on the government to put caution above everything.
According to the senators, if serious caution is not taken, it will return the country to a highly indebted one that it experienced prior to the 2005 debt relief granted it by the Paris Club.
Debate on the Appropriation Bill by the senators kicked off after the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (All Progressives Congress, APC), presented the lead debate of the figures of the budget and its objectives.
Presenting the lead debate, the Senate leader said: “About 89 per cent of the deficit (N1.65 trillion) will be financed through new borrowings, while about N210 billion is expected from the proceeds of privatisation of some public enterprise.
“Debt Service/Revenue Ratio, which was high as 69 per cent in 2017, has led to concerns being raised about the sustainability of the nation’s debt.
“Therefore, while the national debt remains sustainable, it is imperative that we tackle our revenue problem so that we do not end up with a debt sustainability issue.
“The 2019 budget seeks to stimulate the national economy, making it more competitive by focusing on infrastructure development, delivery of inclusive growth and prioritizing the welfare of Nigerians to safeguard lives and property;
“It also seeks to equip farmers with technology and techniques; empowering and enabling mines to operate in a safe and secure environment and training of our youths through the revival of our vocational institutions to ensure they are competitive enough to seize the opportunities that will arise for this economic revival.”