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Buhari, House of Reps set to clash over $30 billion loan

Senate-buhari

– Crisis is brewing between the between the executive and the federal legislature over the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration  plan to borrow $29.96bn from external sources

– A source  said the main problem is the refusal of the Buhari government to indicate if part of the loans would be used to finance their zonal intervention programmes otherwise known as constituency projects

– Besides the $29.96bn loan, House members are believed to be agitated over a separate request by Buhari for a virement of N180.8bn from the 2016 budget

Fresh crisis is brewing between the between the executive and the federal legislature over the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration  plan to borrow $29.96bn from external sources. Besides the $29.96bn loan, House members are believed to be agitated over a separate request by Buhari for a virement of N180.8bn from the 2016 budget.

President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the National Assembly to approve the external borrowing plan to enable his government to raise funds to execute key infrastructural projects across the country between now and 2018.

According to a report by Punch, many lawmakers including members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are currently not favourably disposed to approving the plan.

A source quoted in the report said the main problem is the refusal of the Buhari government to indicate in his letter seeking approval for the external borrowings that part of the loans would be used to finance their zonal intervention programmes otherwise known as constituency projects.

“Before approving the borrowing plan, the lawmakers want a commitment from the government that those constituency projects would be executed.

“That was why the House leadership met with the minister of budget and national planning, Senator Udo Udoma; minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, sometime last week.

“At the meeting, held inside the Speaker’s office, there was no commitment from the government officials as they needed to go back and report to the President. So there was no concrete outcome from that meeting.”

The source added that it was against this background that Gbajabiamila, who was said to have interfaced with some APC members on the matter, decided to approach the President in order to nip in the bud possible crisis over the loans.

Also, an official of the National Assembly said; “There will be serious legislative fireworks this week because we are not in ordinary times in Nigeria. “Any loan that generations after today will continue to repay raises a lot of questions, and the person to provide the answers is Mr. President himself.” A member who does not want his name in print stated that “$29.96bn is not N29bn.

This is a huge amount of money. What do you want to do with it? “It is not enough for you to write the parliament and say approve for agriculture and all that. Where are the details of the proposed expenditure? This loan request will not have an easy ride.” On his part, House Minority Leader, Mr Leo Ogor, admitted that members were worried that the President opted for a foreign loan at a time his administration had yet to account for the recovery it made as looted funds.

“We have not seen the details of the loan. We will have to see the details and compare the proposal with the provisions of the Debt Management Office Act.

“There is so much money recovered from looted funds, Treasury Single Account.  How have we utilised the money? We are not going to approve any loan without first seeing the details; make comparison with our DMO Act and our foreign liabilities.”

Recall that the DMO had advised the government not to borrow more than $22.08bn in 2017. The advice was contained in the agency’s DMO 2016 Debt Sustainability Analysis.

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