Nigeria’s debt is getting out of control and the country has to do something about it, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, said on Thursday.
He said the country’s domestic debt was getting to its debt ceiling as far as liquidity was concerned, adding that there was no need to pretend that Nigeria’s debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio was still low.
In September this year, the Debt Management Office released Nigeria’s total public debt stock as of June 30, 2020, and put the country’s debt portfolio at N31tn, indicating an increase of N2.38tn within a space of three months.
Speaking at a virtual event organised by World Bank Nigeria, El-Rufai also stated that most rich Nigerians did not pay income tax.
He noted that it had been tough to fund security due to the numerous expenses incurred by government.
The governor said the Central Bank of Nigeria’s involvement in many activities should be addressed, adding that the country’s rising debt should be controlled.
He said, “You can’t fund security more than you are doing now unless you reduce spending on other ministries, departments and agencies.
“The extensive way in which the Central Bank is into everything, I think, has to be addressed and dealt with. And we must look at our domestic debt management and do something about it.
“It is getting out of control and we are getting to our debt ceiling as far as liquidity is concerned. And to pretend that our debt-to-GDP ratio is still low, I think is not the answer to the question.”
On the collection of taxes by the federal and state governments, El-Rufai said it was worrisome to note that many rich Nigerians defaulted in the payment of taxes.
He said, “It is a travesty that in Nigeria, as at 2018, just about 20 people in the whole country paid more than N20m in income tax. It is a travesty and something should be done.”
The governor said the federal and state governments were not doing enough to target rich people and get them to pay the right amount of tax.
He said, “I think that rich Nigerians don’t pay taxes. They live in huge houses, drive expensive cars but when you see their tax return, you realise that the civil servants on grade level 12 pay more income tax than they do.”
El-Rufai said states needed to collect more taxes.