The Federal Government has faulted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s comment on the debt profile of the nation saying his comments were based “on scaremongering anchored on a false premise.”
In a statement in Abuja on Wednesday, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said while the Federal Government welcomes constructive criticism, such must be based on verifiable facts rather than conjectures and innuendos.
He pointed out the debt figure to revenue ratio of 99% in the first quarter of 2020 quoted by Atiku is not in the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper where he claimed he got it from.
”We are also not able to ascertain the source of the first quarter figures of N943.12 billion for debt servicing and N950.56 billion for retained revenue, which he also quoted,” he said.
The Minister said the debt service provisions in the annual budgets include principal repayments, interest payments and all other applicable charges, adding: ”Therefore, the statement that debt servicing does not equate to debt repayment is not only wrong, but ill-informed.”
On the former Vice President’s assertion that revenue needs to go up, he said the administration has introduced several measures to shore up revenues, listing some of the measures as the passage and implementation of the Finance Act, 2019, various on-going reforms in the Oil and Gas, Tax Administration and Collections, as well as the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives.
He said since Nigeria’s debt service is expressly provided in the annual budgets and the debt service payments are made as and when due, the issue of creditors foreclosing on Nigeria, as strangely predicted by the former Vice President, does not arise.
He said contrary to the statement credited to Abubakar that Nigeria has experienced alarming and unprecedented increase in the ratios of debt to GDP and debt service to revenue, indeed, Nigeria’s ratio of debt to GDP is one of the lowest in the world at 19.00% as at December 31, 2019, while Government is making concerted efforts to increase revenue so as to bring down the ratio of debt service to revenue.