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Published On: Fri, Dec 21st, 2018

Reps probe Nigeria’s $47bn debt portfolio

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By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Puma

The House of the Representatives yesterday mandated its Committees on Aids, Loans Debt Management, Capital Market, Institutions, Banking and Currency to carry out investigation into the debt profile in Nigeria from 2015 to 2018.
This followed a motion on the “Need to Investigate Nigeria’s Alarming Debt” sponsored by Hon. Yusuf Tajudeen (Kogi PDP).
Tajudeen, while presenting the motion noted with concern that the alarming rate of Nigeria’s debt profile has led to economic instability, stifled growth and stunted development, as well as impacting negatively on various sectors of the economy.
According to him, the figures given by Economic and Budget Experts as well as Economic Policy Monitoring Bodies range between $13 billion and $47 billion, from May 2015 to June 2018.
The law maker also noted that there have been continued controversies about the
true state of the Nation’s debt profile, such that there is glaring disparity in the figures given by the Federal Government and some Fiscal Policy Monitoring Organizations.
He drew the attention of the legislators to be “Aware that while the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, who is the Chairman of Nigerian Economic Council stated that the Nation’s debt profile stood at $10billion in the last three years,” there are other “further analysis of Nigeria’s external and domestic debt which reveals that the external debt grew to $17.83billion in June 2018 from $10.49billion in 2015, while domestic debt which was N8.39trilli0n in June 2015 has risen to N12.15 trillion as at June 2018; (representing an increase of N7.6 trillion in 3 years).”
He further said, “Concerned that aside the rising national debt profile, there is a sharp increase in sub-national borrowing in the last three years, such that the domestic debts of States Governments rose from N1.69trillion in June 2015 to N3.4trillion in June 2018.
“Also concerned that though borrowing (external and lor domestic) is an important and necessary strategy to reflate the economy and stimulate national growth and development, the positive impact of Nigeria’s borrowings since June 2015 is yet to be seen;
“Further concerned that unlike global practices where borrowings are tied to specific projects mutually agreed by respective organs of government, various borrowings by the Federal Government, the Governments since June 2015, have not been transparent; a situation which gives room for doubts, misconception and prone to manipulations;
“Further aware that Nigeria’s revenues are sharply declining, which makes it increasingly difficult to attract and sustain higher debts, ultimately portending micro and macro dangers to the nation’s economy amidst numerous developmental challenges.”
The committee is expected to report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.

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