By Jonathan Ugbal
The Cross River State Government has declined direct comments on the data from the country’s Debt Management Office (DMO) that its external debt currently stands at about 131.469 million dollars i.e. over 41 billion Naira.
The Finance Commissioner, Asuquo Ekpenyong and his counterpart in Information and Orientation, Friday declined comments on the impact of the rising external debt profile of the state on the implementation of the 2016 budget.
Ekpenyong’s who did not take this reporter’s call initially, later called back and upon hearing the inquiry, quickly asked “What is your source?” and when this reporter told him that it was from the Debt Management Office following findings by our correspondent, he then replied; “I will like to see a copy of it by next week before I comment” and then terminated the call.”
Also, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Rosemary Archibong who though said she had read reports on the external debt profile of the state told this reporter on phone that she cannot comment directly on the matter until she meets with the Finance Commissioner.
“You know that report has not been released, I read it also like you and it was yesterday. Those are the things that when the finance commissioner comes, some meetings will be held and the modalities and the direct consequences will be addressed. For now, I think it is a bit too early for me to comment, let them come and we will look at it critically” Archibong said.
Data from the DMO shows that Cross River State ranks third in the most externally indebted states, falling behind Lagos and Kaduna states.
With debt having a vital role to play in the planning and implementation of annual budgets, it is still unclear the impact of the external debt burden on the implementation of the 2016 budget which sources say will be reviewed in the coming days.
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