Nigeria is in good shape with $39.7b debt profile - Okonjo-Iweala

With a debt profile of $39.7 billion the, Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance Dr .Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday says Nigeria debt is in very good shape. The minister in her maiden address to journalists in Abuja said Nigeria’s debt now stand at N5.2 trillion for domestic debt and $5.3 billion external debt. She said, “Nigeria has $39.7 billion total debt stock which is 20 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, the country is still in very good shape in terms of GDP, but we should start worrying when national debt hits 60 per cent of GDP.
Okonjo-Iweala, however, lamented that of the 20 per cent of GDP debt stock, 17.5 per cent of it is domestic debt and insisted that Nigeria would have to watch her domestic borrowing. In her words, “Nigeria has to reduce borrowing but cannot stop borrowing immediately because it will be a shock to the system. The government has said it will put the trend on a down ward part on domestic debts because whether government likes it or not it is bound to respect the terms of the bonds it is holding and other financial commitments.” She described herself as a “debt hawk” and assured Nigerians that the country’s “external debt is extremely low and all are concessional with reasonable interest rate.”
Okonjo-Iweala also disclosed that the Minister of State for Finance Alhaji Lawan Yerima Ngama was working on 2011 budget viament with legislators to ensure that the country has a sound 2012 budget.