The Debt Management Office, DMO, has clarified that the nation’s public debt increased only by $20 billion between June 2015 to June this year.
DMO was reacting to media report (not in Vanguard) that the debt profile rose by about $77 billion within the period under review.
According to a statement it issues yesterday, the DMO said the figure represented the gross debt of both federal, the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
It read: “The Total Public Debt Stock as at June 30, 2015, (shortly after the current Administration came into office), was USD63.81 billion, and not USD7.0 billion.”
“Similarly, the nominal increase in the public debt stock between June 30, 2015 (USD63.81 billion) and June 30, 2019 (USD83.88 billion), was about USD20.0 billion, which is a far cry from the gross misrepresentation made at the Live Programme on Channels that the public debt stock increased by USD77.0 billion during this period.
“The DMO considers it expedient at this time in the interest of the general public to make the following clarifications regarding Nigeria’s Public Debt:
“The Public Debt Stock data published by the DMO comprises debt of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“It is therefore, erroneous to attribute the growth in the Public Debt Stock to borrowings by the FGN only.
“While the Public Debt Stock has increased, the increase is well guided by the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy, 2016 – 2019.
“New Borrowing was included as one of the strategies in the ERGP to be deployed in the near term, to stimulate economic growth and job creation.
“With the deployment of more funds into capital projects, the borrowings contributed to job creation and the recovery from economic recession in June 2017.
“The introduction of project-tied financing products (Sukuk and Green Bonds) in the second half of 2017 as part of the New Borrowing also supported infrastructural development.
“By international benchmarks, Nigeria’s Total Public Debt relative to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is sustainable at 18.99 percent of GDP as at June 30, 2019. However, the Government recognises that the ratio of its Debt Service to Revenue is rather high, a situation that is directly attributable to Nigeria’s low Revenues.
“This is clearly evident from the Tax to GDP ratio of 6% in 2018.
It is for this reason, that the FGN has developed and is implementing a number of strategies to enhance the Government’s Revenues significantly.
The Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative introduced in January 2019 and more recently, the Finance Bill are some of the measures introduced by the Government.
“It is expected that these efforts would substantially enhance Government’s revenue and thus, bring down the ratio of Debt Service to Revenue.
“It is also expedient to highlight the need for the Government’s recent request for approval of the USD22.718 billion Medium-Term External Borrowing Plan, 2016 – 2018 (outstanding from the USD29.96 billion previously submitted) by the National Assembly.
“The proposed loans which are meant to finance critical infrastructure, will be mostly sourced from the Multilateral and Bilateral window, and are project-tied.
The Loans come with cheaper financing terms namely: low interest rates, longer tenors and ample grace periods.
“This proposed loans which are concessional and semi-concessional are more cost efficient and would facilitate infrastructural development which in turn would create new jobs; improve the quality of life and make Nigeria more competitive for business.
“It is instructive to note that the proposed External Borrowing Plan, also includes the external funding needs of the States and FCT.”