Zainab, Fashola, Saraki defend Buhari’s $22.7 loan request

Zainab, Fashola, Saraki defend Buhari’s $22.7 loan request

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 10:21 pm

• President Muhammadu Buhari… supportive of Sierra Leone & ECOWAS countries

The Federal Government on Tuesday deployed three ministers to the House of Representatives to defend President Buhari’s request from National Assembly for approval of 22.7 billion dollars fresh borrowings for his government.

At the green chamber to defend the loan captured under the Federal Government’s External Borrowing Plan (2016 to 2018) were Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Finance, Mrs Zaynab Ahmed and Minister of State, Transport, Ms Gbemisola Saraki, according to report by News Agency of Nigeria.

The ministers, who appeared at a public hearing conducted by the House committees on Aids, Loans and Debt Management, and Rules and Business put up strong arguments as they tried to convince the lawmakers that the loan would be invested in Infrastructure development and not consumption if approved.

The 8th National Assembly had received the proposed projects for 2016 to 2018 Medium Term (Rolling) External Borrowing Plan put at 30 billion dollars.

The ministers, however, presented the same proposal at 22.7 dollars and gave reasons why the country should have funds as soon as possible.

They emphasised that the loans would promote infrastructure development and job creation.

The Minister of Finance said Nigeria that the country had a revenue generating challenge and stressed the need to invest in sustainable projects that would generate revenue.

Ahmed said the loan would be “strictly for infrastructure development.

“So that we can address the deficit that we have. We know we must comply with some criteria; every Kobo borrowed will be judiciously used,” she said.

Also, Minister of Works and Housing said Nigeria’s debt portfolio and debt service were being considered.

Fashola emphasised that investing in capital projects were needed to help the country achieve a self-sustaining economy.

“As we cannot ignore the concerns about debts, so we cannot ignore the concerns and demands for the provision of life sustaining infrastructure.

“We have passed budget of several hundreds of billions, but the reality is that over four years, we have never received full funding for any budget. And the reason is simple, there is a deficit, and we cannot finance it.

“Some of the roads we are investing in will last for upwards of 20 to 30 years if well maintained and not abused. For rail assets, usually the tracks will last for at least 100 years. Power plants like the Mambilla will be there for many decades.

“So, we will be spending today’s money to secure tomorrow’s assets that will sustain our growing population and growing economy.”

The Minister of State for Transport also said there was the need to complete Kano-Lagos and Niger Delta coast rails.

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