The Director-General of the Debt Management Office, DMO, Abraham Nwankwo, said that the nation’s total debt profile as at December 31, 2016 was $57.39 billion (N17.36 trillion).
He made this known when defending the agency’s 2017 budget before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts in Abuja on Thursday.
Mr. Nwankwo said the amount included domestic and foreign debts owed by the country as at the end of 2016.
While giving a breakdown of the debt profile, he said the external debt profile stood at $11.41 billion (N3.48 trillion), while the domestic debt stock stood at $45.98 billion (N13.88 trillion).
According to him, the debt stock of N17.36 trillion owed by the country included debts of the Federal Government, the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Mr. Nwankwo also said that the difference was due to the projected debt service payments in respect of new financing that was not fully utilised, as only few loans became effective during the period.
He pointed out that the domestic debt stock of the Federal Government of Nigeria, the 36 states and the FCT accounted for about 80 per cent of the total debt, while the external debt stock accounted for about 20 per cent.
He assured that though Nigeria’s debt profile was on the increase, it was not in a precarious economic situation that would warrant seeking for debt relief.
Mr. Nwankwo added that in spite of the recession, the economic indices had not portrayed Nigeria as a weak economy to warrant seeking for debt relief.
“Nigeria is not in a position to beg for debt forgiveness.
“In spite of the present state of the economy, the country is still counted as a strong economy among other countries. The economic indicators show that Nigeria has a strong economy,” he said.
He said if borrowing would be genuinely committed to infrastructural development, it would go a long way in the move to develop the economy.
On repayment of the debt, he said the Ministry of Finance was making efforts to expand the nation’s tax base.
According to him, this will be done by ensuring that people and companies that are not paying taxes begin to pay to boost the revenue base and reduce the need for borrowing.
He lamented that tax collection in Nigeria had been poor, contributing to reduced revenue generation.