APC Govt Inherited $63.8bn Debt, Not $7bn, Says DMO

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The Debt Management Office (DMO) has debunked a recent statement reportedly made by a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafiya, to the effect that the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration under President Muhammadu Buhari inherited a debt stock of less than US$7 billion in 2015, which according to him, now stands at US$84 billion.

In a statement, Monday, the DMO said the purported claim was totally incorrect and not supported by public debt data that is readily available on its website
“ Contrary to the claim by Dr. Obadiah Mailafiya, 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 as claimed by Dr. Obadiah.

“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 statement said The DMO stated that it considered it expedient at this time, in the
interest of the general public. to make some clarifications regarding Nigeria’s public debt.

According to the agency, the public debt stock data published by it comprises debt of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), adding that it is therefore, erroneous to attribute the growth in the
public debt stock to borrowings by the FGN only.

It also noted that 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, stressing that 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.

The debt management agency also stated that by international benchmarks, Nigeria’s total public debt relative to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is sustainable at 18.99 per cent of Gross Domesticm Product (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,” the DMO stressed. The statement pointed out that it was 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, it added, 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,” the DMO said.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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