Former minister expresses worry over Nigeria’s rising debt

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A former Minister of Environment, now Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Muhammed has expressed her worry on the rising level of debt in Nigeria and other countries in Africa.

Speaking at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the UN Working Together Conversation, she said the UN and IMF must have better conversations on the demands of a growing economy, seeking ways to make growth better and inclusive.

Mohammed also said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, two-time minister of finance, spent years to get Nigeria out of debt, but the country is now back to worrying levels of debt.

“As I was coming up from New York, some of the concerns that came up from the meeting we had in China just recently and reports that we have; the debt issues are really big, I mean, having experienced what it was for Ngozi (Okonjo-Iweala) to get debt relief.

“It took her a few years to convince people, and we are now back again in my country, with a level of debt that is worrying, but it’s happening all over. Africa, is that the way we want to go?

According to her, Okonjo-Iweala was very influential in the debt relief Nigeria secured in 2006.

Before 2005, Nigeria had an external debt stock of $36 billion, which had been carried over from the military years, dating back to 1985.

In October 2005, with Okonjo-Iweala as finance minister, Nigeria and the Paris Club announced a final agreement for debt relief worth $18 billion after Nigeria paid $12 billion.

The deal was completed on April 21, 2006 when Nigeria made its final payment and its books were cleared of any Paris Club debt, bringing Nigeria’s external debt profile to just $3 billion while domestic debt was only about N1 trillion.

As at June 30, 2018, Nigeria’s total debt profile, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) had risen to $73.21 billion or N22.38 trillion.

 

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