By Jacob Ajakaiye, in Kano
The Debt Management Office (DMO), has charged state governments to put in place debt management windows, as well as legislative instruments as a way of effective management of the nation’s raising public debt.
The debt office said the call has become imperative, as Nigeria’s total public debt has continue to grow in recent times, moving from the N2.3 trillion mark it was in 2014 to a new record mark of N4.7 trillion in December, this year.
Speaking at a national sensitization workshop organised on sub-national debt management for top policy makers in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, in Kano, in the week, Patience Oniha, director-general of the DMO, stated that there is an urgent need for sustainable management of the nation rising debt.
The director –general disclosed that her agency decided to organize the sensitization programme in order to enlist the support of sub-national actors in ensuring an orderly borrowing, as well as generate strategy to manage the existing debt.
In doing this, she said there is the need for each component of the sub –national entities to establish a Debt Management Office, which should be backed up with a legislative instrument by their respective state houses of assembly.
Oniha acknowledged that while it is imperative that public debt management in the country is dynamic, there is the need for both national and sub-national to work together to make public debt more sustainable.
Speaking further, she said that the workshop was conceived to assist the participating state actors to appreciate the situation of the nation public debt, and develop common ground for making it healthy.
“What we are having today is the first leg of the workshop which is meant for stakeholders in the North-Central, North –West, North –East, and the Federal Capital Territory. The second leg would be coming up next week in the southern part of the country,” she explained.
She thanked the management of the African Development Bank and African Development Fund, for supporting the staging of the workshop, and other forms of support rendered to the DMO.
Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano commended the management of the DMO for organizing the workshop which was described as timely, in view of the growing need for borrowing to sustain the nation`s development.
Governor Ganduje, who was represented at the occasion by Anwalu Mohammed Na`iya, Kano State head of civil service, highlighted some measures put in place by the Kano State government to effectively manage it debt.
The Governor said his government has provided equipment for the take- off of a department for debt management, as well as a bill sent to the State House Assembly to assist smooth operation of the department.
Facts gathered by business a.m. show that Nigeria’s debt stock increased by three percent from the N21.68 trillion recorded in December 2017 to N22.4 trillion ($73.21 billion) at the end of June 2018.
The rise in total debt stock was recorded after the government issued a $2.5 billion Eurobond in February 2018, in the same vein, the nation’s debt stock decreased by 1.44% from N22.7 trillion in March 2018.
However, the DMO noted that the debt figures showed that the implementation of the debt management strategy whose overall objective is to ensure that Nigeria’s debt is sustainable, is already yielding positive results
The Nigerian government is planning to obtain more external debt to execute some of the projects in the 2018 Appropriation Act, which analysts believe is going to fuel the debt burden.
Mean-while, the workshop was attended by the members of the State House of Assemblies, Secretaries to State Governments, Head of Services of States, State Accountant- Generals, Commissioners for Finance, Budget and Planning, and Debt Management Office staffs.