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Nation’s debt may hit N33 trillion next month

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Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Aliyu Mohammed (left); the minister, Zainab Ahmed and Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, during the ministry’s 2021 budget defence at the National Assembly, Abuja… yesterday PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO

• Reps decry N4b allocation for power projects
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, yesterday, informed the Senate that Nigeria’s total debt could hit N32.51 trillion at the end of next month.

The figure, she added would be in the region of N38.68 trillion by December 31,2021.

The minister made the disclosure during the defence session of the 2021 budget in Abuja.

She stated: “The total debt stock of Nigeria comprises the external and domestic debts of the federal and state governments and the Federal Capital Territory which stood at N31.01 trillion as at June 30, 2020. It is projected, base on existing approvals, to rise to N32.51 trillion by December 31,2020, and N38.68 trillion by December 31,2021.”

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But the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, which invited her, expressed worry that despite the increasing liability, there were still numerous abandoned road projects across the country.

Ahmed added: “I’m one person that feels that we should just do this and take one major road in one geopolitical zone and finish it.”

She said work on the legacy projects, Lagos-Ibadan highway, Second Niger Bridge, East-West road and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, was ongoing because they were few and funds were available for them.

On delayed disbursement of the Sukuk funds to contractors for executed projects, the minister said verification of claims needed to be perfected before payment.

HOWEVER, the House of Representatives Committee on Power has decried the N4 billion allocation for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in the 2021 budget.

The Aliyu Magaji-led panel insisted that the vote was too meagre to achieve anything substantial in the power sector.

Consequently, the committee cancelled all new capital projects planned by TCN next year.

The firm, led by its Managing Director, Sule Abdulaziz, had appeared yesterday before the committee to defend its next year’s budget proposal totallingN165,89,532,680.

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