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Budget defence: Reps C’ttee grills DMO over N3t domestic debt

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THE House of Representatives Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management on Monday grilled the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, over rise in domestic debts totalling N3.3 trillion in 2023.

  Rep. Ahmed Safana, the Chairman of the Committee, in Abuja, expressed surprise at the astronomical increase in debt profile of the country through borrowing by the government.

  The committee rejected continuous borrowing by the Federal Government.

  According to the lawmaker, there is a huge increase in domestic and external debts from borrowed funds by the federal government and the DMO is entrusted with role of ensuring frequency of repayment.

  He said that there was N1trillion increase in the debt profile of the country in the last one year, while calling on DMO, as relevant agency, to halt the frequency of borrowings.

  According to the DG, the domestic debt profile of the country stood at N3.685 trillion and there is another N2.57 billion from external borrowing by government

  The committee said borrowings by government at any level must be tied to specific projects and demanded details of the N3.55 trillion earmarked for borrowing in 2023 budget.

  At the budget session, a member of the Committee, Rep. Emeka Azubogu (Anambra-PDP) decried frequent borrowings while others demanded details of the personnel cost of the agency and the number of its employees.

  Another member of the House Committee, Rep. Steve Azaiki (Bayelsa-PDP) advised the Federal Government to engage consultants to be able to access funds from the $70 billion climate change funds in the USA.

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  Rep Promise Dike (Rivers-PDP) demanded that the agency should submit to the committee all details of assets sold, payment made and outstanding debts owed to the agency under privatisation.

  Responding, Oniha said domestic debt profile rose from N3.2 trillion in 2022 to N3.3 trillion in 2023 due to high interest rate from borrowed funds from domestic and international sources of funds.

  She said that borrowing was a collective responsibility and there was need for the parliament to look at borrowing of funds by the government from macro-economic perspectives.

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