By Olusola Awojuyigbe
(An24), – The Debt Management Office (DMO) Monday revealed that Nigeria’s total debt stock increased to N19.15 trillion at the end of first quarter 2017, from the N17.36 trillion at the end of last year.
According to the DMO, the external component of the country’s debt stood at $13.80 billion at the end of March 2017, as against $11.40 billion at the end of December.
But the domestic component of the debt fell to N11.97 trillion, as against N13.88 trillion last year.
A breakdown of the domestic debt component showed that while FGN Bonds was N8.178 trillion, Nigerian Treasury Bills N3.6 trillion, Nigerian Treasury Bond was N191 billion and the FGN Savings Bond N2.068 billion.
The federal government raised a total of $1.5 billion through Eurobond sales in two tranches in the first quarter of this year.
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun recently said Nigeria’s debt is not too high. However, she pointed out that the country’s revenue was too low.
She had said the country’s debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio remained low.
“The problem is not that our debt is too high, but that our revenue is too low. It is revenue you use to pay debt and our revenue in Nigeria right now is very low.
“Most of our debt matures between two years. That means that the actual amount of interest we are paying is significant. What we are doing right now is refinancing most of that debt, especially those maturing within the next two years.
“We are also working on improving government revenue through tax. Our tax to GDP is six per cent; we are one of the lowest in the world. Ghana is 15 per cent, South Africa, 24 per cent.
“So what we are doing is working very hard to see how we can get more people into the tax net and how to get those who are already in the tax net to pay the right taxes,” she had explained.
Adeosun further said government was devising a means to ensure that all streams of income of an individual were taxed.