The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Monday, December 30; implored Nigerians not to panic over the country’s debt profile.
Lai Mohammed made this appeal during a media briefing in Lagos; detailing the major achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for 2019.
He further revealed that certain section of the media deliberately misrepresented the debt profile; in a bid to misguide the citizenry.
According to his statement, the country had not reached its debt ceiling of 25 per cent; in total public debt stock to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said: “Recently, there have been concerns in certain circles about the country’s growing debt, both domestic and external.
“In the process, there have been some misrepresentations and scaremongering.
“We, therefore, believe it is important to put things in perspective, so our citizens will be well informed.”
Lai Mohammed said it was not correct to say that Nigeria’s external debt alone was $81.274 billion.
He added: “The public debt stock is actually a cumulative figure of borrowings; by successive governments over many years.
“It is, therefore, not appropriate to attribute the public debt stock to one administration.
“Nigeria’s total public debt stock in 2015 was $63.80 billion; comprising $10.31 billion of external debt and $53.49 billion domestic debt.
“By June 2019, the total debt stock was $83.883 billion made up of $27.163 billion of external debt and $56.720 billion domestic debt.”
Mohammed said there was no cause for alarm because Nigeria had a debt ceiling of 25 per cent in the total public debt stock to (Debt/GDP), which it had operated within.
The minister said that the debt service to revenue ratio had been higher than desirable; hence the push by the government to diversify the economy and increase oil and non-oil revenues significantly.
According to him, the government is also widening the tax base to capture more tax-paying citizens.
“In the face of massive infrastructure decay, no responsible government will sit by and do nothing.
“This administration’s borrowing, therefore, is aimed at revamping our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, railways, waterways, and power to help unleash the potential of the nation’s economy.”