Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed declared yesterday in Abuja that Nigeria’s debt profile will rise from N31.01trillion in June this year to N38.68trillion by December 31, 2021.
Ahmed, who spoke while appearing before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, explained that the projected increase in debt profile for the country is hinged on N7trillion to be borrowed between now and then.
“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 N31.01trillion as at June 30, 2020, is based on existing approvals , to rise to N38.68trillion by December 31, 2021,” she said.
The minister added that the 2021 Appropriation Bill has a provision of N3.124 .38trillion for debt service out of which N2.183.
Explaining some of the projections made for the N12.6trillion 2021 budget, she said the heurrent Sukuk fund which is N162 billion is for 45 roads cutting across the six geopolitical zones.
“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, of 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,” she said.
Making clarifications on abandoned projects, the minister lamented that what contractors do now is bit that has been cut out for them to do based on allocations and appropriations made.
“You will see a road that costs, may be, N5 billion, 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 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”, she explained.
She added that work on the legacy projects, Lagos-Ibadan highway, 2nd Niger Bridge, East-West road, and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, are ongoing without stop because funds were available and they are few.
“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 are required 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 few a projects at a time”, she stressed.
But chairman of the committee, Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP Edo Central), said the rising debt profile will seriously be monitored by the Senate and by extension, the National Assembly in saving the country from total debts trap.
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