From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
The Federal Government has asked the National Assembly to approve another $9.005 billion foreign loan just as some governors yesterday stormed the National Assembly, demanding for their share of previous $3.39 billion foreign loan. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Loans and Debts, Ehigie Uzamere, has however, threatened to decline approval for state governments that do not appear before the committee to defend their loan proposals.
In a breakdown of the loan profile, practically all the states applied for their shares of the $3.39billion loan while the Federal Government applied for another $4.8 billion Continuation of Eurobond Issuance $1 billion; Diaspora Bond $0.1 billion, totaling at $9. 005.69 billion loan. Government will borrow $300 million to support the provision of affordable houses by the private sector at low interest rate with a long-term repayment period to provide cheap funds for buying or building houses by the public. Also, $200 million will be deployed to support agriculture. The money will provide for seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals.
It will also be used to develop a data base and conduct research through the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Project. Early this year, the Federal Government forwarded a $7.9 billion loan request to complete pipeline projects which the National Assembly has now incorporated in the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (M-TEF).
Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Jigama, told the committee that the repayment period is about 40 years and it is a concessional loan which is quite different from the one Nigeria had borrowed. He insisted that the loan is interest-free, noting that all the states have been banned from negotiating individually to ensure that the interest rates of the loan are the same.
At the presentation, Imo State Commissioner for Finance, Chike Okafor, submitted a proposal of $45 million and $20 million respectively being the cost of erosion management and youth empowerment support projects. Many commissioners who represented their various state governments complained of their inability to get disbursements on the amount approved last year even though all procedures were met. But Ondo, Rivers and Delta states did not send any representatives to defend their loan requests before the Senate.