Zainab Ahmed

Nigeria’s borrowing is still within acceptable fiscal limits, despite the country’s growing debt level, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has said.

As at December 31, 2016, the country’s total public debt, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO), stood at about N17.36 trillion and N57.39 billion.

Based on a debt management structure of 80:20 per cent between domestic and external respectively, the profile consisted external debt of N3.48 trillion and $11.41 billion, as well as domestic debt of N11.06 trillion and $36.26 billion.

With the coming of the present administration, the debt management agency said, the figure has grown to about N22.43 trillion and $73.2 billion as at September 30, 2018.

Details of the debt profile published in the agency’s website showed N6.62 trillion and $21.59 billion were in respect of the country’s external debt, while N15.8 trillion and $51.6 billion was were for domestic.

The DMO said government policy is to adjust the debt structure to 60:40 shared between domestic and external.

Critics have expressed concern over the country’s growing debt stock.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the end of its first monetary policy committee meeting a fortnight ago warned the country’s accumulated debt stock was approaching the pre-2005 era.

No Cause For Alarm

But, Ahmed, assured Nigerians there was no reason to fear, as the debt level was within sustainable threshold.

“We have been very strategic in the management of our debts, revenues, infrastructure, and human capital,” Ahmed said at the Deloitte Economic Outlook conference in Lagos.

“These plans and the tighter coordination, monitoring within and among Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) with economic functions have placed us on a positive trajectory. We intend to maintain a steady course. Our borrowing is still within very good fiscal limits.

She presented a paper on the topic, ‘Revenue Growth and Economic Development: Expectations for 2019’.

The minister said despite the global risks that have slowed down economic growth, government has continued to pursue the Economic Recovery Growth Plan, which has helped country’s economy exit recession.

She said the economy is moving upwards on a path of sustainable, inclusive & diversified growth, with priority on diversified revenue generation based.

“Our targeted revenue to GDP ratio is 15 per cent as set out in the Economic Recovery Growth Plan.

“We will continue investing in the ERGP implementation by leveraging finance for critical infrastructure and our social investment programmes. These investments, we believe, will guarantee a sustainable future,” she said.

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