By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Debt Management Office (DMO) on Friday put Nigeria’s total public debt as of September 2019 at N26.215 trillion.
The Director-General of DMO, Ms Patience Oniha, made the disclosure while presenting the nation’s Public Debt Data in Abuja.
She explained that the debt comprised the Federal Government and 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory’s debts within the period under review.
Oniha said the comparative figure for June 2019 was N25.701 trillion which implied that in the quarter July to September 2019, the total public debt grew by 2.0 per cent.
She said that the total public debt as of September 2019 included promissory notes in the tune of N821.651 billion, which she said, were issued to settle the Federal Government’s arrears to oil marketing companies and state governments.
The director-general said the 2019 Appropriation Act provided for a total new borrowing of N1.605 trillion split equally between domestic and external, adding that only the domestic component of N802.82 billion was raised due to the late passage of 2019 budget.
She said, “Among the highlight of the DMO’s achievements for 2019 was the issuance of a 30-year bond for the first time.
“The introduction of the 30-year bond was to meet the investment needs of long-term investors such as insurance companies and support the development of domestic financial markets in areas such as mortgages”.
According to her, from the Federal Government’s perspective, the 30-year bond also contributed to reducing the refinancing risks of the public debt stock.
Oniha stated that the borrowing was to finance specific projects and activities of the government as well as to finance deficit budget.
She further explained that due process, which involved the executive and legislature, was followed.
Oniha stated that the low revenue base of Nigeria’s relative to its GDP “is clearly reflected in the high Debt Service to Ratio”, adding that “this clearly brings to fore, the need for revenues to grow”.
“The efforts towards increasing and diversifying revenue such as the passage of the Finance Act and Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should thus be supported”, she added.
The DMO DG, however, regreted that the discussions around the debt stock were politically motivated.