The Director General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, at the weekend noted that there was need for government at all levels to encourage private sector borrowing for the development of some key sectors of the nation’s economy.
He also said Nigeria's debt as at September this year stood at $8,264.34 billion, which was 22 per cent of the total GDP, maintaining that the level of the debt was still sustainable.
He also sought for cooperation of all stakeholders to ensure sustainability of the public debt profile of the country.
Speaking at a three-day retreat organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management, held at Ada, Osun State, Nwankwo proffered that increase in private sector borrowing and decrease in government borrowing are the panacea to the challenges of keeping the nation’s debt within sustainable level.
According to him, “When private sector operators have more funds to run their businesses, jobs will be created and goods, hitherto being imported will then be produced locally, thereby saving the nation of foreign exchange
Nwankwo noted that the federal government intervention in the agricultural sector, especially in rice production, which he said cost government as much as $3 billion annually to import is a good development, adding that “the plan to end importation of rice in three years, means the local production will be strengthened to cope with the demand locally and later produce for export.
He remarked that “those that would produce this commodity will need more money. If more funds is available to these private sector operators, production will increase, so I want to encourage them to source more funds both locally and from foreign sources.
"Debt Management Office for years has been sensitising private sector operators about sources of raising funds locally and from outside the country. We intend to do more also in that regards, sustaining efforts to open their eyes to opportunities of sourcing funds," he concluded.
However, in his contribution, the Chairman of House Committee on Aid, Loans and Debt Management, Hon. Yinka Ajayi, contended that all public debts should reflect in the nation's debt to GDP ratio.
The lawmaker said all the debts owed by the nation should be treated as debt to enable the economy planners to take holistic view of these debts so as to be able to proffer practical solutions to the challenges they pose to the nation building.
He, however, remarked that there are customised solutions the country can come up with in debt management that will teach the rest of the world better ways to manage public debt.