Fred Itua, Abuja

The Federal Government, yesterday, said it opted to approach the China-Exim Bank for a $17 billion loan request when other lending institutions like the World Bank and the African Development Bank were unwilling to assist.

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, stated this when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt. She appeared to defend Federal Govern  $29.96 billion loan in order to fund critical infrastructure across the country.

She explained that the 8th National Assembly had approved about $6 billion for the Federal Government out of the $29.96 billion loan leaving a balance of $22.8 billion.

Ahmed told the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign loans that the Federal Government and some state governments were jointly requesting the loans from various lending institutions.

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She said the bulk of the loan, which is about $ 17 billion, would come from the China-Exim bank while others are from lending institutions like the Islamic Development Bank, among others.

The minister maintained that the country had no issue with its current debt profile but with its dwindling revenue which could not fund the various projects that are expected to have meaningful impact in the lives of Nigerians.

She said: “The funds would be channeled to the funding of infrastructure which will enhance the productivity of our economy. Other projects are in the heath care, education. It also included projects for the rehabilitation of the North East geopolitical zone.

“Others are the Mambila Hydro Power project ($4.9 billionn),  Lagos-Kano  modernisation project $4.1 billion), Development Finance project loan being provided by a consortium of World Bank and African Development Bank agencies ($1.28 billion). The facilities will support the setting up of the Development Bank of Nigeria through some development finance institutions in Nigeria to provide funds for small and medium size enterprises. This will make access to finance to SMEs easier, help them to grow and help more Nigerians to come out of poverty line.”