Federal Government on Tuesday said Nigeria would not take up for the debt relief package that is being offered to low income countries by the International Monetary Fund.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2021 budget.
Responding to a question on whether Nigeria would take up the debt relief facility, Ahmed said that the Federal Government was not considering the offer.
According to her, Nigeria has entered several loan agreements with various lenders and asking for debt relief would suggest that the country cannot meet its debt obligations to its creditors.
The IMF had approved a second debt service relief package of six months for 28 low income countries.
The debt service relief will last from October 14, 2020 to April 13, 2021.
The debt service relief, which was approved by the IMF’s Executive Board on October 2, 2020, is being granted under the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust.
The Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust was designed to help benefiting countries to fight the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Africa has the highest number beneficiaries with about 18 countries eligible for the six-month debt service relief package.
The IMF had earlier, on April 14, 2020 approved the first six-month debt service relief which lasted from April 14 to October 13, 2020.
The approval made in April enabled the disbursement of grants from the CCRT for payment of eligible debt service which will be due to the IMF from October 14, 2020 to April 13, 2021, worth $227m.
The IMF hopes the debt service relief would free up scarce financial resources to enable governments to cushion the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in different countries.
Nigeria’s total public debt stock had risen in recent times as a result of the decline in oil revenue.
Data from the Debt Management Office shows that the country’s total public debt stock increased from N28.628 trillion ($79.303bn) as of March 31, 2020 to N31.009 trillion ($85.897bn) by June 30, 2020.