China-Exim bank to fund Lagos, Kano, Calabar railway projects – Osinbajo

Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria

The China-Exim bank has agreed to finance Nigeria’s railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said Tuesday.

The plan of the federal government to raise a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund from the global community and establish long term bankable projects is gaining traction, Mr. Osinbajo said.

“We have seen considerable, favourable interests from some sovereign wealth funds and other nations,” the vice president told a delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry that paid him a courtesy call Tuesday in his office.

Explaining the idea of the fund to the delegation, Mr. Osinbajo said the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority which manages the country’s sovereign wealth fund is leading the project, adding that the Infrastructural Fund would create opportunity for commercial partners to participate in the building of the nation’s infrastructures alongside the federal government.

This would be done through the establishment of bankable projects that involves such commercial partners,” he said.

He disclosed that the China-Exim Bank has agreed to finance the railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar.

According to him, “we expect these will generate some economic activities and create jobs”.

The vice president reassured the federal government’s determination to raise revenue internally to fund the budget including through an expansion of VAT coverage but not an increase of the VAT rate.

“At 20% of the VAT coverage now, the federal government intends to do much better giving a boost to the country’s tax revenues,” he said.

The delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was led by Nike Akande, who declared the support of the chamber for the federal government’s fight against corruption and acknowledged that in the current economic situation that the Buhari presidency is having to deal with “there are no easy choices”.

Mrs. Akande, a former minister for Industry, called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to find a foreign exchange regime that would boost the confidence of investors and remove uncertainly.

The vice president told the delegation that the federal government was focussed on finding solutions to the economic situation, including through a focus on building infrastructure and also diversifying the economy, especially through agriculture. Besides, the government is also focussing on creating an enabling environment for business and investments in the country.

Mr. Osinbajo also received a delegation from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, ALTON.

He praised the telecom operators stating that “there is no question at all about the importance and contribution of the sector especially since the 2001 privatization.”

The Vice President noted that the telecom sector is one of the sectors in the economy that has created a significant impact.

He reiterated federal government’s resolve to develop critical infrastructure in the country including in the power sector which was an area of concern expressed by the operators at the meeting.

Earlier the Chairman of the association, Gbenga Adebayo, presented an industry report to the vice president entitled “The Socio-Economic Impact of Telecoms in Nigeria.”

Mr. Adebayo also expressed the concern of telecom operators regarding “multiple taxes” and some of their equipment destroyed by insurgents in the Northeast. He noted that the industry has recorded over 120 million subscribers since 2001.

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