By Emma Ujah
The Debt Management Office (DMO), Wednesday, put the nation’s total public debt stock at N31.009 trillion or $85.897 billion, as at June 31, 2020, representing 8.3 percent rise from N28.628 trillion in March 2020. The figure comprised the debt stock of the federal government, the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The DMO, in a report yesterday, explained that, “The increase in the Debt Stock by N2.381 Trillion or USD6.593 billion was accounted for by the USD3.36 Billion Budget Support Loan from the International Monetary Fund, New Domestic Borrowing to finance the Revised 2020 Appropriation Act, including the issuance of the N162.557 Billion Sukuk, and Promissory Notes issued to settle Claims of Exporters.” The DMO also said that the figure could rise further when the balance of the new borrowing is raised for the implementation of the current budget. It stated:
“The DMO expects the Public Debt Stock to grow as the balance of the New Domestic Borrowing is raised and expected disbursements are made by the World Bank, African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank which were arranged to finance the 2020 Budget. “The 2020 Appropriation Act had to be revised in the face of the adverse and severe impact of COVID-19 on Government’s Revenues and increased expenditure needs on health and economic stimulus amongst others.
Additional Promissory Notes are expected to be issued in the course of the year, this, and new borrowings by State Governments are also expected to increase the Public Debt Stock.” The federal government announced, earlier in the week, that it lost 60 per cent of its expected revenue to the COVID-19 pandemic which adversely impacted the global economy and at a point pushed oil prices into the negative zone, thereby forcing it to take more loans. Nigeria’s Oil cargoes were on the international waters without buyers for weeks, at the peak of the pandemic when most nations were on lockdown. Crude prices crashed, thereafter, and have remained low, since then.