Fed Govt’s $22.6b loan for roads, power projects, says Senator



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Fed Govt’s $22.6b loan for roads, power projects, says Senator

From Sanni Onogu, Abuja



The Senate Committee on Finance on Sunday put the external loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari at $22.6 billion.

Prior to this, there had been reports that Buhari requested the National Assembly to approve $29.96 billion external loan to enable his administration execute infrastructural, agricultural, health, education and water supply projects across the country.



The committee may organise a public hearing on the request should there be a need Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Solomon Adeola (Lagos West), sated this at the weekend.

Adeola said the loan request came to $22.6 billion because the eighth National Assembly approved $6 billion out of the $29.96billion request.

He explained that when approved, the loan would be drawn in tranches

According to the committee chairman, the loan is tied to the completion of   the Second Niger Bridge, the East-West Road, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Mambila Power project, and the Kaduna-Abuja Highway.

Adeola said “The Senate Committee on Finance will organise a public hearing on the issue if need be. In the alternative, we would engage the various agencies of the government to give them a clearer view of how the money would be utilized.

“All the money being requested for borrowing would be attached to the execution of specific projects.

“We are not going to approve any loan plan that is not attached to project execution because that is the only way we can monitor the development and the proper utilisation of the money.

“The Buhari administration has five legacy projects which it plans  to spend the money on.  They include the Second Niger Bridge, the East-West Road, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway,  the Mambila Power project, and the Kaduna-Abuja Highway.

 Senate examines Buhari’s $30b loan request

“The approval of the loan would afford the government, an opportunity to achieve the completion of the projects before the end of the Buhari’s administration.

“The borrowing plan would assist the government to fulfill its promise to Nigerians. The plan is not only for one or two years, it is for the next four years.

“So, the loan would be taken in tranches. For instance, what the government desire to borrow in 2020,  would be requested in 2020.

“That is why it is called a plan. The Senate will monitor its utilization as soon as they are coming in.”

He said that Nigerians should rather be concerned  with the judicious application of the loan than the amount   or  the repayment .

Adeola  said: “Every government borrows and since the business of government is  a continuum, any incoming government would have to inherit what the past administrations had borrowed.

“It is a commitment they made on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“What should concern us more is,the judicious application of the money government is borrowing because all governments,  even in the United States,  borrow.

“It becomes a burden when government takes  loans and refuses to repay. So, setting aside the money in order to service any outstanding borrowing is not a bad idea.

On the loan repayment plan of the present administration, Adeola said the government was considering the idea of setting up a sinking fund account  and putting   funds aside to repay the loan  as and when due.

He said: “Borrowing will not bring untold hardship on people because any government coming on board after Buhari would still borrow.

“For instance,  just last week, the Central Bank  said Nigeria is into a deficit of N4.62 trillion in 2019 alone.

“What that simply means is that the deficit recorded in the 2019 budget is N4.62 trillion. So, the question is, how do we augment this deficit?

“The options available are either we print new currency, borrow or raise international bond.

“So, the government needs to move on.  I agree that there are challenges in the economy but it is not as a result of the action taken by the Buhari administration alone.

“Successive administrations before his own also contributed. Borrowing should not be an issue  but ensuing that money borrowed is  used for the purpose   it is meant  to serve.

“That is why the legislature must ensure that the government makes judicious use of the money for the purpose for which it was borrowed.

“This is the only thing that would allay the fears of Nigerians because there is no way we could avoid borrowing because the revenue coming in is in trickles not en bloc.”

The  Finance committee chairman, who called for a comprehensive overhaul of the NNPC, stressed that  “every transaction of the NNPC must be made open.”

He said:  There should not be any transaction of the NNPC that should be shrouded in secrecy. The issue here is that NNPC importation of fuel is as a result of the non-performance of our refinery.

“When they recorded under recovery which led to the issue of subsidy payment,  it  became an issue. The question is, who verifies  the payments?

“The 9th Senate will work assiduously to ensure that the under recovery being claimed by the NNPC  is  properly looked into.

“During the 8th Senate, it was discovered that there was a big difference between amount of fuel imported and the actual consumption by Nigerians.

“That has also shown in the current closure of the borders. It has been reported that over 11 million metric tons of PMS were not utilized within Nigeria.

“That shows that something is wrong somewhere. So, those who have been living fat on this kind of transaction, should be ready for us as we go into proper legislative oversight.

“We would ensure that he who comes to equity, must come with clean hands.

“We are ready and we are going all the way to ensure that the issue of under recovery would be put at rest, once and for all.”

Fed Govt’s $22.6b loan for roads, power projects, says Senator

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