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No big deal about Nigeria’s rising debt profile – DMO boss



Nigeria External Debt Service Cost

Contrary to the anguish being expressed in some quarters over the country’s rising debt stocks, the Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha has assured that there is no cause for alarm as the current borrowing is within manageable limits.

Oniha gave this assurance recently at the 4th National Budget Roundtable and Panel Discussion roundtable organised by Centre for Economic Policy and Development Research (CEPDeR) at the Covenant University.

The summit tagged, ‘National Budgeting for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Development in Nigeria’ had in attendance scholars, policy makers, researchers, civil society groups, and others.

According to her, government borrowing is not necessarily a ‘bad thing’ as IMF states that “borrowing can enable countries to finance important development projects and programmes. Governments across the world borrow and debt levels have been on the rise even before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

No big deal about Nigeria’s rising debt profile - DMO boss

Director General of the Debt Management Office, Ms Patience Oniha

While noting that Nigeria is not peculiar, the DMO boss noted that sustainable development requires a combination of fiscal and monetary policy actions that will ultimately involve structural reforms.

Such reforms, she stressed, “Will lead to increased national productivity, higher exports, improved infrastructure (physical and social), better security, low to moderate level of inflation and stable to predictable exchange rates.

“The Nigerian government has successfully utilised borrowing as a tool for economic recovery to bring the economy out of cycles of recessions, first in 2017 and second in 2021.

“Government borrowing can also support other sectors of the economy that attract foreign investors and have multiplier effects on the country,” she maintained.

Oniha noted that the debt profile was fast growing as the country has a huge infrastructural deficit.

She, however, said that the government was working tirelessly to diversify revenue sources to reduce pressure on crude oil, which is prone to volatility.

Oniha said that spending on infrastructure by the federal government was meant to create job opportunities for teeming youths.

In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of Institution, Prof Abiodun Adebayo, said that the country’s natural and human resources endowment have placed us in a position to play a prominent role in the global economy.

Adebayo stressed the need for the socio-economic potential of the nation to be harnessed so as to achieve economic growth.

The don said that the economic growth was bedevilled by supply constraints such as a shortage of essential skills and appropriate technology to drive growth, energy, foreign exchange and unfriendly business regulations.

In his contribution, Mr Gabriel Okeowo, Country Director, BudgIT Nigeria, stressed the need for the federal government to put necessary measures in place to meet revenue projection in the nation’s annual budget.a

Okeowo noted that the country’s revenue shortfall has hindered the implementation of some of the critical infrastructure.

The country needs to fix its exchange rate because it is adversely impacting the nation’s debt profile, “he said.

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