Nigeria’s debt stock rose to N19.15 trillion ($62.91 billion at the official exchange rate of N304.4) as at March 31, 2017, against N17.36 trillion at the end of December 31, 2016, The Guardian reports.
This shows an increase of N1.79 trillion ($5.88 billion at N304.4 per dollar) in three months, arising from new deals in efforts to overcome the 2016 budget deficit put at N2.2 trillion.
The development shows that the gains of Nigeria exiting the Paris Club and the Brettons Wood institutions debt under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration have been eroded and consequently, the future of Nigerians has been mortgaged as the people will have to labour to pay off the debts.
According to the Debt Management Office (DMO), parts of these deals include $1 billion in February and $500 million in March from Eurobond sales.
Consequently, Nigeria’s debt service bill recorded a corresponding increase from both the domestic and external sides of the obligations, despite the faltering revenue flow.
The President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Dr. Teju Somorin, lamented that the country’s revenue-to-interest payment had fallen to a record low, made worse by poor behaviour towards payment of tax.
The country’s revenue-to-debt ratio and revenue-to-interest payment have long elicited local and international concerns, even as multilateral institutions like World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have declared it unsustainable, calling for the deepening of tax collection as immediate support.
On the domestic debt, made up of those of states and the Federal Government, put at N14.9 trillion, no less than N474.1 billion has been paid out as interest in the first three months of the year – N180.1 billion in January; N106.4 billion in February; and N186.9 billion in March.
Similarly, the external debt component at $13.8 billion as at March 31, was in contrast to $11.40 billion by December 31, 2016, and has consumed about $127 million (about N387 billion) in the period under review.