8 November 2012

Nigeria: Senators Query Jonathan's N1.23 Trillion Borrowing Plan

Abuja — Plans by President Goodluck Jonathan to borrow externally to the tune of $7.905 billion (aboutN1.23 trillion), yesterday, was criticised by the Senate, as the lawmakers argued that there was no rationale behind such big loan.

Some of the Senators who spoke against the move described it as death trap for Nigeria and the future growth of the country, and expressed reservations that the said money might not be channelled into what it was meant for.

The lawmakers, who were not comfortable with government's plans to borrow from the foreign financial institutions, however, warned that if the loan was approved, it must be properly monitored and used for the specific projects as directed by the executive.

It was, however, referred to the Senate Committees on Finance, Local and Foreign Debts to report back in the next one week for consideration.

It would be recalled that President Jonathan had sent the 2012-2014 Medium Term to the Senate since February 14, 2012 requesting that it should be approved to give room for the finance of pipeline projects, youth employment and power infrastructure in the country.

Leading the debate, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, who explained that the projects were special initiatives designed to grow the economy and bring it back to where it ought to be, stressed that it would also help transform the fortunes of Nigerians by the implementation of government's transformation agenda.

According to Ndoma-Egba, "the pipeline projects are at various stages of finalization and a total external pipeline borrowing in the amount of US$7,905,960,000 or US$2.4 billion a year being cumulative facilities offered are as follows for the completion of the pipeline projects: World Bank, $2.975billion; African Development Bank, $731.23 million; Islamic Development Bank, $672.85 million; French Development Agency, $56.61 million and Exim Bank of China, $3 billion."

Senators react

Contributing, Senator Benedict Ayade (PDP, Cross River North) who told his colleagues that there was no need for the borrowing when the country could look inwards and generate funds for executing its projects, said: "We should not go borrowing because when we do that we lose the value of the naira, we lose our own values. There is no reason why we should go and borrow from countries that are not as rich as Nigeria."

Senator Ahmed Lawan (ANPP, Yobe North) said there was no need for it against the backdrop that nothing serious had come from the previous borrowings.

Senator Joshua Dariye (Plateau Central) who warned that the loans could actually be a "death trap" for the future of Nigerians, stressed that a number of items raised should be further scrutinized.

Meanwhile, according to the Notice Paper, the Senate will today consider the report of the Senator Magnus Abe, PDP, Rivers South East led Joint Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Appropriation and Finance in respect of a motion on the Investigation into the Current Fuel Subsidy Management in Nigeria.

Also today, the embattled, Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice, Ondo North will know his fate whether to remain in the Senate or not as the report of the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions in respect of a petition from Labour Party and Ondo State House of Assembly. Senator Boroffice had dumped the Labour Party, LP, the party under whose platform he came to the Senate for the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.

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