Senators express concern over President Jonathan’s fresh borrowing plan

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Nov.8 (PREMIUM TIMES) — The Senate on Wednesday resolved that President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for the approval of the Medium Term External Borrowing Plan undergo further legislative work at committees level.

The senate, therefore, referred to the Finance Committee and the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Jonathan’s request for inclusion and approval of 7.9 billion dollars external loans to undertake proposed Pipeline Projects.

The senators, however, cautioned that effective monitoring system be deployed by the Upper Chamber to ensure actual utilisation of the funds for the listed projects.

Leading the debate on the motion, the Senate Leader, Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, said the projects were special initiatives spanning critical sectors of the economy.

He said they would enhance the growth and employment activities geared toward transforming the fortunes of Nigerians among others.

The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, said that there was nothing wrong with the country borrowing so long as the borrowed money would be properly utilised for the purpose intended.

“What is important about borrowing is the actual utilisation. If we borrow and apply them for the purposes that are stated here, then it is good for the country.

Sen. Ayogu Eze (PDP-Enugu) said that emphasis should be on development of Nigeria’s waterways and railways to facilitate transportation of heavy goods across the country.

“Before we approve this request, we should be able to know how the previous funds were utilised. Sometimes these loans are obtained but not applied for projects they were meant for,‘’ he said.

Sen. Ita Enang (PDP-Akwa Ibom) called for even spread of the projects across the country to ensure that Nigerians were the main beneficiaries.

He added that the projects should be in areas of infrastructure and industrial development capable of generating revenue for the country.

“We should take loan to provide infrastructure and create industries. We should not collect loans to service areas that will not generate revenue to pay back the loans,’’ he remarked.

Sen. Nkechi Nwaogu (PDP-Abia) observed that some of the areas listed for intervention were already captured in the budget, saying that they might not impact positively on Nigerians.

“The purposes for which some of the money would be used leaves room for suspicion. Nigerians will only be happy for the borrowings when they feel the benefit.

“We can’t borrow and at the end of the day, can’t show value for the money we have borrowed,‘’ Nwaogu added.

Sen. Ben Ayade (PDP-Cross River) opposed the request on ground that it would place a debt burden on future generations of Nigerians.

He advised that Nigeria should be developed with resources available within the country, adding: “most of the projects funded by foreign loans have been abandoned’’.

Sen. Joshua Dariye (LP-Plateau) also cautioned that going for external borrowings could throw the country into another debt trap.

The request was referred to the two committees for further legislative work and to report submit their report within one week.

A breakdown of the external facilities are 2.975 billion dollars from the World Bank; 731.23 million dollars from Africa Development Bank and 672.85 million dollars from Islamic Development Bank.

The others are 3 billion dollars from the Exim Bank of China and 56.61 million dollars is expected from the French Development Bank.

The Medium Term External Borrowing Plan, which covers  2012 to 2014 is aimed at boosting youth employment, electricity and gas projects, agriculture and water resources and financing among others.

 

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