Monday, 09 December 2019 20:03

Rejoinder: DMO faults claims by Dr. Obadiah Mailafia that the APC Government inherited USD 7billion debt in 2015

The attention of the Debt Management Office (DMO) has been drawn to a recent statement by a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Obadiah Mailafiya, on a recent Live Programme on Channels Television to the effect that the All Progressives Congress (APC) Government inherited a debt stock of less than USD7 billion in 2015, which according to him, has now increased to USD84 billion. We wish to state that the purported claim is totally incorrect and not supported by public debt data that is readily available on the Website of the Debt Management Office (DMO).

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 DMO considers it expedient at this time in the interest of the general public to make the following clarifications regarding Nigeria’s Public Debt:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


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December 9, 2019