The Senate has approved a $16.2 (16,230,077,718) billion loan request by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Also approved was €1 (1,020,000,000) million and a grant component of $125 million loan request by the president.
The amount approved is under the federal government’s 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) plan.
The lawmakers approved the sum on Wednesday after they considered the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, presented by the chairman, Clifford Ordia.

Previous approvals

The president had in May, asked the Senate to approve the loan request.
The 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan contained a request for approval in the sum of $36.8 billion, €910 million and a grant component of $10 million.
Lawmakers of the upper chamber have since then been making approvals in bits.

They approved $8.3 billion and €490 million in July. They also approved $6.1 billion in the same month.
And in April, the Senate approved $1.5 billion and 995 million loan request.
In September, Mr Buhari requested another $4(4,054,476,863), €710 million and grant component of $125 million as an addendum to the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan. The money, he said, is for various projects.
Key allocations

A copy of the committee’s report obtained by our corresondent shows the federal government’s plan to use the loan for projects across different sectors like the power sector, digital economy, industrial sector and education.
Others are transportation, financial and national planning, health, women affairs, National Assembly and environment.

Some key proposals include:

– Provision of 17MW Hybrid Solar Power Infrastructure for National Assembly – $62.1 million.
– Construction of a Standard Gauge Rail line from Kano to Maradi (Niger Republic) with branch to Dutse – $190.2 million.

– A 330 KV DC North Core Interconnection of Nigeria/Niger-Benin/Togo-Burkina Faso – $29.3 million.
– COVID-19 Response Support Program (C19RSP) – $288.5 million.
– Nigeria Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Project (COPREP)- Additional Financing – $400 million.
Committee’s recommendations
In his presentation, Mr Ordia noted the concerns of Nigerians about the level and sustainability of Nigeria’s borrowing activities within the last decade.

He said the debt service figures, which continue to increase, reached an all-time high of around 95 per cent of Nigeria’s retained revenue and 35.6 per cent of annual expenditure, which no doubt constitutes a huge drain on the revenue and limits resources available for national developmental projects and human capital development.

The lawmakers further said out of over $22.8 billion approved borrowing by the National Assembly under the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Rolling Plan, only $2.8 billion, that is,10 per cent has been disbursed to Nigeria.
“The great pressure placed on the human and financial resources of the National Assembly to approve loans under the Medium Term External Borrowing Plans is unnecessary.

“A good number of the projects in respect of which financing is being requested under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan are mostly ongoing projects and programmes in respect of which External Borrowed funds have been spent in the past, including loans and grants,” Mr Ordia said.

Funding agencies

The funding agencies are: the World Bank – $3.52 billion, China EXIM Bank – $5 billion, Industrial Commercial Bank of China – $3.9 billion, China Development Bank – $2.8 billion, African Development Bank (AfDB) – $698.5 million, French Development Agency (AFD) – €345 million, European Investment Bank – €175 million, European ECA, KfW, lPEX, AFC – $190 billion, International Capital Market – €500 million and Standard Chartered Bank/Sinocure $62.1 million.
The Senate adopted the committee’s report and approved the loan thereafter.

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