Nigeria to sink deeper into debt as it hits N38trn in 2021 —Finance Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the total public debts of Nigeria would hit N38trn by December 2021.

Ahmed, who disclosed this during her presentation to the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, said paucity of funds was responsible for the increasing number of abandoned road projects across the country.

She also disclosed that the current Sukuk fund for 45 roads across the six geopolitical zones in the country is N162billion.

The minister said: “The total public debt stock comprising the external and homes debts of the Federal and state governments and the Federal Capital Territory stood at N31.01trillion ($85.90 billion) as at June 30, 2020.

“It is projected, based on existing approval, to rise to N32.51 trillion by December 31, 2020 and N38.68 trillion by December 31, 2021.

“I am one person that feels that we should just take one major road in one geopolitical zone and finish it.

“We were not able to do that because of the processes in which appropriation is made both at the executive as well as the legislative arms of government.

“But truly, if we are able to just take one or two projects at a time and complete it before going to the next one, it will be better.

“What the contractor does is the bit that has been cut out for him to do in that particular area.

“Once the fund is released and it is finished, we stop again. That’s the consequence of these numerous projects that we put in the budget.

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“It is not related to Sukuk-funded projects alone. It cuts across all the projects.

“You will see a road that costs may be N5billion and you will see a provision for N100million, N200million or N300million.

“Of course the project will never finish. After two years, the contractor comes back and asks for variation, and the amount keeps growing.

“I wish that we get to a point when we sit down as government and agree that let us select a few projects, finish them in 2020, and then in 2021, we select the next.”

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