The nation’s external debt stock could hit over $36 billion if the National Assembly approves the $4.054 billion new borrowing request presented by the executive to the federal legislators, yesterday.
President Obasanjo had to launch a relentless debt relief campaigned for Nigeria when in 2004 the nation’s debt external stood at $36 billion, with the country spending more on interest payments than on health care and education, put together. This debt relief effort yielded fruit on June 29, 2005, when the Paris Club and Nigeria agreed on a US$18 billion debt relief package, with the country paying off the balance to free the nation.
Official figures of the Debt Management Office put the external debt stock at $32. 859 billion, as of March 31, this year.
Since then, the National Assembly has approved an $8. 325 billion new borrowing plan for the President Muhammdu Buhari, administration to enable it to implement the 2021 budget.
That approval followed the consideration of a report on the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan by the Committee on Local and Foreign Debt.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia, had explained that the borrowing was imperative due to the shortfall in the country’s annual revenues in relation to the need for rapid infrastructural and human capital development, adding, “we have had to pass deficit budget every year, requiring us to borrow to finance the deficit in our budget.”
However, the administration has yet to borrow the entire figure, as approved, as officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning are said to be weighing the options available to the nation, in order to get the best deal, with concessionary facilities being considered as their preference.
It was learnt that the 2018-2020 External Borrowing Plan contained $36.837 billion.