Despite a public debt stock of $62.8million (N19.159trillion), Nigeria’s debt is still manageable, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, has declared.
The Minister who insisted that Nigerians have no cause for concern over the nation’s debt profile, argued that there is no debt problem facing the country.
Speaking at a dialogue session with Situation Room, a coalition of over 70 civil society organisations, in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister revealed that following the exportation of yams abroad last week, more locally produced agricultural products will be exported to grow the economy.
The Federal Government says it is targeting about $8billion as annual foreign exchange from the exportation of yams to other countries.
“It’s not that we don’t have enough revenue. We have resources but not enough revenue coming to government. Right now, the taxes that we collect is about 6% of GDP. In most countries, it’s over 20%; the average for Africa is about 16%.
“So when people say we have a debt problem, no. What we have is a revenue problem. If we have enough revenue our current debt is manageable,” Udoma stated.
According to him, the 2017 budget is designed to address multi-sectoral challenges with a view to growing the economy and make life more comfortable to Nigerians.
Nigeria’s public debt stock as of March 31, 2017 stood at $62.8million (N19.159trillion).
A check on the website of the Debt Management Office on Tuesday, also revealed that of the total debt stock, external debt stood at $13.8million (N4.2trillion) while domestic debt stock was put at $39.07million (N11.9trillion).
The N7.441trillion 2017 budget will be financed mainly by borrowing of N2.23 trillion.
Breakdown shows that N1.25trillion will be sourced from domestic borrowing, even as N1.06trillion is from foreign sources.
The Minister assured that strides in agriculture is targeted at boosting the nation’s foreign exchange, adding that the present administration will explore processing of local products for export in line with global best practice.
At a meeting with the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts held with Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amechi, who is leading government’s negotiations on $5.8billion rail loan request in June, the panel expressed concerned about Nigeria’s rising debt status and possibility of throwing the country into another debt trap.
In his remarks, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwankwo called for expansion in the nation’s tax net.