Nigeria’s total public debt rose by N1.96 trillion, or 8.74 percent, from about N22.43 trillion as at September 30, 2018, to N24.39 trillion by December 31, 2018.
The Director-General, Debt Management Office, DMO, Patience Oniha, told journalists while presenting the latest report on the country’s debt profile on Thursday in Abuja that the new figure represents a year-on-year growth rate of about 12.25 percent.
Mrs Oniha said the report includes data on the composition of the public debt data and the breakdown of the debt between the Federal and the State government, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The DMO DG said the report showed more progress was made towards realising the target 60 percent (domestic) and 40 percent (external) debt ratio.
In line with the DMO strategy using relatively cheaper and longer tenured external funds, she said the government is achieving its expected objectives.
She said some of the objectives include creating more space for other borrowers in the domestic market, extending the average tenor of the debt stock to reduce refinancing risks and increasing the country’s external reserves.
The DG said the implementation of the strategy led to an injection of about N855 billion through the redemption of Nigerian Treasury Bills in 2018, and a general drop in the Federal Government’s borrowing rate in the domestic market from over 18 percent per annum in 2017 to an average of 14 and 15 percent in 2018.
The Federal Government’s domestic debt stock, she said, includes about N331.12 billion promissory notes issued to petroleum products marketers and state governments in December 2018 as part of the refund for projects executed in their domains on behalf of the Federal Government.
Despite the rising debt stock, the DMO DG said some of the government’s major plans in 2019 includes to undertake more borrowing and access more external borrowing from concessional sources tied to specific projects.
As part of the external borrowing plans, Mrs Oniha announced plans to issue a 30-year Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds for the first time once the National Assembly gives the go ahead.
“The issuance of the Bond will meet the needs of annuity funds and other long-term investors, while also developing the domestic capital market and reducing the financing risk of the Federal Government,” she said.
Besides, she said the government will focus on the management of risk associated with the debt stock to mitigate debt service cost.
She commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for the recent decision by its Monetary Policy Committee to reduce the monetary policy rate (MPC) or lending rate from 14 percent to 13.5 percent.
She said this help banks to access more funds to finance investment in the economy.