Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has put the nation’s external debt at US$ 6.67 billion, saying that the clarification became necessary because of the various figures being quoted in the debate over the country’s indebtedness.
According to the local VANGUARD newspaper, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said the figure, which she described as low, is about 3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
She said “the external debt is typically owed to foreign creditors such as multilateral agencies like the Africa Development Bank, the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, as well as other bilateral sources, including the China Exim Bank, the French Development Bank or the Japanese Aid Agency, or to private creditors such as investors in our Eurobonds.”
The Minister said that most external loans were contracted on concessional terms and disclosed: “Many of the multilateral loans are at zero interests, 40 years maturity, and 10 years grace. Others are at less than three percent rate of interest.”
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala assured that the Federal Government would continue to closely monitor the nation’s debt stock to keep it low.
Her words, “We shall never be complacent about our national debt. We need to be constantly vigilant to limit the amount of debt and create room for the private sector instead to borrow. As such, we need to stay focused on three main priorities.
‘’We should continue to monitor our external borrowing and ensure that we do not slip back to our high indebtedness prior to the debt relief programme. The External Borrowing Plan, helps to address this concern by ensuring that we always have a comprehensive, transparent view of our foreign borrowing.”
Prior to the debt relief in 2006, Nigeria spent $10.1 billion to service its debts in 2005 and US$ 8.04 billion in 2006.