1 Jul 2015

Nigeria’s debts hit $63.5 billion

Nigeria’s total debts stood at 12.06 trillion naira ($63.5 billion) at the end of March this year, up from 11.2 trillion naira in December 2014, the Debt Management Office (DMO) said on Wednesday.

Nigeria, Africa’s top economy and largest oil producer, has been hammered by the 50 percent fall in global oil prices as crude sales account for more than 70 percent of government revenue.

Squeezed government revenues forced this year’s budget to be revised and federal projects scrapped or halted while state employees have gone months without being paid.

The national currency, the naira, has also come under intense pressure, losing substantial ground to the dollar on both the official and black market.

The figure announced by the DMO confirms claims by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that the country’s debt stood at some $60 billion at the end of Goodluck Jonathan’s term, after he lost to President Muhammadu Buhari in March elections.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former finance minister, had however staunchly rejected the claim, saying the debt was much lower, and mostly incurred by states rather than the federal government.

Nigeria’s debts have been rising in recent years despite the country having received $18 billion in relief from the Paris Club of creditors in 2005, when its national debt stood at $30 billion.

Credit: Vanguard

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