Budget office finally releases debt profile

Former Senator Udoma Udo Udoma speaks during the senate screening of new ministers in Abuja, Nigeria October 13, 2015. Picture taken October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, has revealed that the total national debt stock of the country, comprising both the federal government and the states, stands at N16.3 trillion as at June 30, 2016.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by his media adviser, Akpandem James, following a public controversy when the Minister failed to give the exact figures of Nigeria’s total debt at the Nigerian Economic Summit on Monday.

Udoma revealed that foreign liabilities stood at N3.2 trillion while domestic liabilities was N13.1 trillion saying he assumed that the questionon Monday was about contractors’ liabilities.

“It has become necessary to correct a misconception carried in the media regarding the minister’s response to the country’s debt status at the ongoing Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja,” the statement read.

“The minister, who was one of the panelists on the ‘Policy dialogue on the Nigerian Economy’ discussion, which focused at the time of the question on the domestic economy, had given a response in line with the thread of discussion in the belief that the reference to debts was in regard to contractor liabilities.

“The discussion centred on ease of doing business in Nigeria, the relationship between private sector organizations and government and plans by government to help grow local businesses in line with the theme of the Summit, which is ;Made-in-Nigeria’.

“Answering a follow-up question by one of the anchors of the discussion, Zain Asher Ejiofor of CNN, which followed the thread of the discussion on recent capital releases for infrastructure project, the minister, who naturally assumed that she was referring to contractors’ liabilities, said the exact figures cannot be made available at that moment since, given its multi-sectoral nature, it has to be authenticated by the appropriate agencies of government before one can say what the exact figure is.

“The minister did not think that the question related to the overall debt position of the country, which includes external borrowings and other liabilities. So the issue of the Minister not answering a question on the overall debt stock of the country does not arise.

“For the information of the public, the total national debt stock (both the Federal Government and the States) stood at N16.3 trillion as atJune 30, this year. This is made of foreign liabilities of N3.2 trillion and domestic liabilities of N13.1 trillion.

“Before the end of the year, the federal government would release a comprehensive document setting out in one publication all the various sector plans that have already been adopted by the government.

“This will make it easier for the general public to easily access government’s overall economic agenda.

“The document will consolidate and harmonizse all the sectoral plans in a single document and set out in broad detail an integrated roadmap for the growth and sustainability of the country’s economy.”

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