By Francis Ajuonuma
The Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha, has charged the incoming federal government to accelerate the growth in revenues to ensure debt sustainability.
Oniha, who blamed President Muhammadu Buhari and the previous administrations for Nigeria’s rising debt, noted that the debt has been driven by operating budget deficits of successive governments, compelling the governments to always request new loans to sustain.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday, the DMO boss said that budget deficits rose to N10.78 trillion in 2023, significantly above the N1.62 trillion reported in 2015.
“The budget deficits would have been much smaller, or Nigeria would have operated on a balanced budget,” if the revenue were greater or expenditure dropped.
“It is therefore imperative that the incoming government takes into account the perennial budget deficits in the preparation of the medium-term expenditure framework (2024 – 2026) and the 2024 budget.
“The government should also accelerate the growth in revenues to ensure debt sustainability,” Oniha said.
The DMO boss said within this period, the government’s new borrowing has increased from N1.46 trillion in 2015 to N8.80 trillion in 2023. The credits were sourced mostly from local and external creditors.
According to Oniha, the government could have avoided the increase in deficit or debt if revenues were significantly high or the government reduced expenditures.
“The records show that deficits in the annual budgets, including supplementary budgets rose to N10.78 trillion in 2023 from N1.62 trillion in 2015.
“Between 82 percent and 99 percent of these were funded by new borrowing which ranged from N1.46 trillion in 2015 to N8.80 trillion in 2023.
“These facts confirm that these budget deficits, funded by new borrowings, have been responsible for the rapid growth in the debt stock and the resultant increases in debt service,” Oniha was quoted as saying.