From ISAAC ANUMIHE, Abuja
The Debt Management Office (DMO) yesterday said that Nigeria’s domestic and external debt rose to N7.5 trillion, as at December 31, 2012. Speaking to newsmen yesterday, in Abuja, during a two-week seminar on Sub-National Debt Sustainability Analysis/Portfolio Review Training Programme for officers of Debt Management Departments (DMDs) in the states, Director General of DMO, Dr Abraham Nwankwo, disclosed that the external debt of Nigeria, as at December 31, 2012, stood at $6.5 billion (N1.040 trillion), while the domestic debt within the same period was N6.5 trillion.
He, however, noted that despite the enormity of the debt, the concern of the government was not the size of the debt, but the use to which these loans were deployed. In line with the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan which lays emphasis on value for money and the ability of the loans to generate employment, create wealth and enhance economic growth, Nwankwo stated that the debt ratio was about 19.4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product and far below the 40 per cent threshold of countries in the same pedestal with Nigeria. Going down memory lane, he stated that a five-year programme was drawn out for all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to have DMDs in their domains.
He assured that by December 31, 2012, all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory had established DMDs in their domains, adding that the two weeks seminar which commenced last Monday was being organised to equip the staff in the DMDs to be able to grasp the full knowledge of what they are expected to do in the discharge of their duties.
At the end of the seminar, he said the DMDs staff would be in the best position to prepare Debt Sustainability Analysis for their respective states, noting that the overall objective was to ensure debt sustainability in states. For effective debt analysis, Nwankwo solicited the support of the DMDs staff to ensure that data needed are promptly released to the DMO as at when needed.
Nwankwo stressed the need for the officers to liaise very well with the governors, directors and others that would boost their activities in carrying out their jobs. On the issue of state debts, the DMO chief said the Office had been able to reconstruct the domestic debts of states, and that very soon the results would be made known to the public.
Also, he said the DMO was in possession of a comprehensive public debt data of the federal government and the States.