Lagos State, the commercial nerve-center of Nigeria, has retained its position as the state with the highest foreign debt in the country, with a foreign debt put at 1.45 billion dollars as at June 30.
A document obtained from the Debt Management Office, DMO, on Wednesday in Abuja, titled: ‘States, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Federal Governments’ External Debt Stock as at June 30, 2018,’ also detailed other states’ external debts.
The document also stated that the external debt stock of the entire nation stood at 22 billion dollars with the Federal Government incurring 17.8 billion dollars, while the states and the FCT owed 4.28 billion dollars.
This means that the Federal Government accounts for 81 per cent of the country’s external debt, while the states and the FCT account for 19 per cent.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that as at Dec. 31, 2017, Lagos State also had the highest foreign debt portfolio 1.47 billion dollars, but the figure reduced to 1.45 billion dollars by June 30.
Following Lagos in a distant second is Edo, which incurred 279 million dollars.
Others are Kaduna, 232.9 million dollars; Cross River, 193.7 million dollars; Bauchi, 134.9 million dollars and Enugu, 127.9 million dollars.
According to the DMO, other top debtors are Anambra owing 107.4 million dollars; Oyo, 106.34 million dollars; Ogun, 105.3 million dollars; Osun, 101.5 million dollars and Abia with 100.2 million dollars.
Following closely are Ekiti with 97.9 million dollars; Ondo with 81.4 million dollars; Rivers, 79.5 million dollars; Ebonyi, 67.9 million dollars; Kano, 65 million dollars; Katsina, 64.7 million dollar and Delta, 63.8 million dollars.
The statement also revealed that Imo incurred 61.2 million dollars; Nassarawa, 61.4 million dollars; Adamawa, 57.8 million dollars; Niger, 55.7 million dollars; and Bayelsa with 57.2 million dollars.
Others are Akwa Ibom with 48.3 million dollars; Kebbi, 46.7 million dollars; Kwara, 49.8 million dollars and Sokoto with 40.2 million dollars.
States with the lowest debt portfolio include Taraba, with 22.1 million dollars; Borno, 22.2 million dollars; Yobe, with 28.4 million dollars and Plateau with 29.6 million dollars.
Others are Kogi, with 32.37 million dollars; Jigawa, 32.80 million dollars; FCT, 32.83 million dollars; Zamfara, 34.2 million dollars; Benue, 34.7 million dollars and Gombe, 38.5 million dollars.
NAN reports that the Director-General of DMO, Patience Oniha, had at a media conference on Aug. 14, said as at June 30, the nation’s public debt stock increased marginally by 3.01 per cent from that of Dec. 2017.
“One of the beneficial outcomes is the rebalancing of the debt stock, the ratio of domestic debt to external debt inching towards the target of 60:40 and the target of 75:25 between long term domestic debt and short term domestic debt,” Ms Oniha said.
According to the figures for June 30 released by the DMO, the ratio between domestic and external debt stood at 70 to 30 compared to 73 to 27 in Dec. 2017.
Ms Oniha said the ratio of 60 to 40 was important to ensure that the nation was not 100 per cent indebted externally, and that it was also easier to raise money domestically.
She also said the Federal Government had been borrowing from the external debt market to refinance maturing local debts because of the lower interest rates obtainable from foreign sources.