The Debt Management Office, (DMO) has disclosed that the Federal Government plans to borrow N1.6tn to fund the 2019 budget.

The Director-General, Ms Patience Oniha, who spoke in Lagos at the Association of Issuing Houses of Nigeria’s semi-annual business lunch.said the government had been reducing its level of new borrowings, as it dropped from N2.2tn in 2017 to N1.6tn in 2018.

According to her, about N1.6tn has been set for borrowing in 2019, and the government adopted a 50:50 approach to spread its borrowing between international and local borrowings.

Oniha said the belief that the government was crowding out the private sector from the debt market was untrue.

She said, “There are issues around getting sub-nationals and corporates to come to the market.

“Corporates prefer to borrow from banks because it is faster and has lower risk than the debt market. In order for us to get these people to come to the market, we have to go back to the drawing board and plan how to tackle these issues.”

Capital market experts, at the event, said the structural issues in the economy were hindering the participation of sub-nationals and corporate in the debt market.

The experts, who spoke during a panel session on the capital market agenda for the next four years, said there was a need for the capital market to set an agenda for the government.

The Chief Executive Officer, FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, Mr Bola Onadele, said the crowding out occurred as a result of the state governments’ refusal to come to the market.

It said called for the support of capital market stakeholders and the Federal Government to support exchanges in attracting sub-nationals and corporate to the debt market.

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Ms Yewande Sadiku, said it was time for the capital market to start dictating what ought to be done and when to the Federal Government.

She said, “We cannot attract capital and investment if we do not address key structural issues. Infrastructure is necessary and should be addressed. There are also material sectors that the government needs to hand over to the private sector.

“We are currently attracting investment into sectors that do not bring big numbers. As capital market operators, it is our duty to tell the government what to do; we cannot longer sit and watch. It falls down to the government to address these issues with urgency.”