Nigeria’s external and domestic debts may hit N38.68 trillion by December 2021, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has stated.
She also blamed abandoned road projects on the intricacies involved in the preparation of annual budgets at the executive and legislative levels.
Ahmed spoke at the budget defence session organised by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt at the National Assembly, Abuja.
The Minister noted: “The total public debt stock comprising the External and Domestic Debts of the Federal and State Governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stood at N31.01trillion (USD85.90billon) as at June 30, 2020.
“It (debt) is projected, based on existing approvals, to rise to N32.51trillion by December 31, 2020 and N38.68 trillion by December 31, 2021.”
She noted the 2021 Appropriation Bill has a provision of N3,124.38 trillion for Debt Service and Domestic Debt Service has a provision of N2,183.49billion while External Debt Service has a provision of N940.89billion.
According to her, the 2021 Appropriation Bill provided for new borrowing of N4,281.17billion, which was broken down equally between Domestic Borrowing of N2,140.58 billion and External Borrowing of N2,140.58 billion.
On the plethora of abandoned road projects across the country, she explained that the current Sukuk fund of N162billion is for 45 roads cutting across the six geopolitical zones.
She added: “I’m one person that feels that we should just do this and take one major road in one geopolitical zone and finish (it).
“We were not able to do that because of the processes in which appropriation is made both at the executive as well as the legislative arms of government.
“But truly, if we were able to just take one or two projects at a time and complete it before going to the next one, it will be better.
“So what the contractor does is the bit that has been cut out for him to do in that particular area.
“Once the fund is released and it is finished, we stop again. That’s the consequence of these numerous projects that we put in the budget. It is not related to Sukuk-funded projects alone, it cuts across all the projects.
“You will see a road that costs, maybe, N5billion, and you will see a provision for N100million, N200million or 300million.
“Of course, the project will never finish. After two years, the contractor comes back and asks for variation, and the amount keeps growing.
“I wish that we get to a point when we sit down as a government and agree that let us select a few projects, finish them in 2020, and then in 2021, we select the next.
“So that on a geopolitical basis, those selections are done as a collective process.”
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