The Federal Government has again enjoined Nigerians not to panic about the country’s rising debt profile, insisting it is still at a very manageable level.
The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a statement on Friday clarified that contrary to various high figures flying around, there is no cause for alarm as far as external and domestic figures are concerned.
“Let me say at the outset that no one in government is supportive of a Nigeria that returns to a high state of indebtedness. On a personal note, having gone through tremendous stress during the quest for Paris Club debt relief, I am committed to a Nigerian economy that is fiscally prudent, balances its books and remains at a low state of indebtedness,” she said.
She said the external debt as at today stands at $6.67 billion. According to her, they are sourced majorly from the International Development Agencies such as the World Bank, Islamic Development Fund, African Development Fund and China Exim Bank among others at almost zero percent interest rate.
While also expressing concern over rising domestic debt, the Minister assured that the ministry has however put forward a mix of limited external and domestic borrowing that is appropriate for the economy.
“Let me repeat that we shall never be complacent about our national debt. We need to be constantly vigilant to limit the amount of debt and create room for the private sector instead to borrow. As such, we need to stay focused on three main priorities.
“As a nation, we have had a difficult history with debt. As such, no one can forget the challenging times we went through from 2003 to 2005 trying, in the end, successfully to get relief on our large external debt. Neither the government nor any Nigerian wants a repeat of the country’s past history of large debts.
“That is why the current President Goodluck Jonathan administration, the Legislature, the Ministry of Finance, and the Debt Management Office, are very focused on a conservative and prudent approach to managing the national debt.
“Our current approach balances Nigeria’s needs for investment in physical and human infrastructure with a strong policy to limit overall indebtedness in relation to our ability to pay. Above all, any debts incurred must go for directly productive purposes which yield results that Nigerians can see.
let me repeat that we shall never be complacent about our national debt. We need to be constantly vigilant to limit the amount of debt and create room for the private sector instead to borrow,” she assured further.