Manager of Nigeria’s debt portfolio, the Debt Management Office (DMO), has disclosed that the country’s domestic debt stood at N8.9 trillion while the external debt stock was $9.3 billion.

Director-General of DMO, Dr Abraham Nwankwo, disclosed this at a one-day seminar organised for the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) in Abuja.

The DMO boss, who stressed that there was no cause for alarm on the country’s total debt situation, however, called for caution, notwithstanding the fact that Nigeria still has a very favourable debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio of 12.5 per cent against the 25 per cent world standard.

Speaking on the recourse to borrowing through bonds by some state governors whose tenure in office would soon expire; Dr Nwankwo disclosed that the government was a continuous process.

He said the society and the management of the economy would not just go and sleep because a particular state governor was leaving office, hence the leeway giving to governors to take bonds when they have limited time to spend in office.

Dr Nwankwo said in as much as the borrowing by any state governor is tied to a particular project, the DMO would still go ahead to allow such a state to take bonds.

The DMO boss stated that the Federal Government needed to guarantee any bond by state governments before such deals could scale through.

Dr Nwankwo, who disclosed that Nigerian companies had issued bonds worth $3 billion, stated that the action was made possible because of the successes recorded in the issuance of Nigerian Sovereign Eurobonds by the DMO.

He noted that “for the first time in Nigeria’s economic history, the private sector has been enabled to access long-term funds from both the domestic and international capital markets.

“The successful issuances of three Nigerian Sovereign Eurobonds in the International Capital Market – one, in 2011 and two, in 2013 – have opened the window for Nigeria’s private sector to raise required foreign currency funds,” he emphasised.

According to DMO boss, “they are now able to fund long-term real sector projects (agriculture, manufacturing, housing, mineral exploration and processing, infrastructure, etc), for diversified and sustainable economic growth towards employment generation and poverty reduction.”

On the domestic front, “between 2007 and 2013, as many as 22 Nigerian companies raised over N223 billion from the domestic market.”

Dr Nwankwo solicited the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders to “sustain the momentum and make maximum use of the opportunity, as patriotic responsibility demands the commitment of all in continuation of the positive transformation that is taking place.”

Source: Tribune

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