Nigeria’s debt stock, both external and domestic would rise to N38.68 trillion by December 31, 2021.
Minister of Defense, Budget and National Planning, Zaynab Ahmed gave the estimate on Tuesday in Abuja. The occasion was 2021 Budget Defence before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt at the National Assembly complex.
The Minister who disclosed that the debt stock of the Federal, state governments and the Federal Capital Territory stood at N31.01 trillion as at June 30, 2020, further revealed that the debt profile would jump to N32.51 trillion by December 31, 2020.
Her presentation before the Senate Committee read in part:” The Total Public Debt Stock comprising the External and Domestic Debts of the Federal and State Governments and the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) which stood at N31.01 Trillion ( $85.90Billion) as at June 30, 2020, is projected, based on existing approvals, to rise to N32.51 Trillion by December 31, 2020 and N38.68 Trillion by December 31, 2021.”
Speaking on the trend of abandoned projects, the Finance Minister suggested that the Federal Ministry of Works picked priority road projects across each of the geo-political zones and ensure their completion before embarking on fresh road projects.
“I’m one person that feels that we should just do this and take one major road in one geopolitical zone and finish. “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, N5 billion, and you will see a provision for N100m, N200m or N300m. 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 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.”
Honourable Zaynab Ahmed assured that work on the legacy projects, Lagos-Ibadan highway, 2nd Niger Bridge, East-West road, and Abuja Kaduna-Kano road, were ongoing without hitches due to availability of funds.
“The NSIA was assigned four major road projects to do. These projects are Lagos-Ibadan highway, 2nd Niger Bridge, East-West road, and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road.
“The projects are going on course because there is funding on the ground and because they are few, they are concentrating on them and work is ongoing. I wish we get to a point when we narrow down project implementation to a few projects at a time.”
The Finance Minister attributed the delay in releasing Sukuk funds to contractors for executed projects, to the need to ensure thoroughness and verify claims before disbursements.
“There is an audit process, the first batch has been released, the second batch is being released as we speak.
“There are some checks that we have to put in place to make sure that the claim that is being made is actually valid. There are parties that have been engaged to do a second level of verification in addition to the claims the Ministry of Works sends as invoices due for payment.”