The Federal Government has said that the proposed amount of the 22.7 billion dollars requested by President Muhammadu Buhari in the External Borrowing Plan (2016 to 2018) would be invested in infrastructure development and not consumption.
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zaynab Ahmed and Minister of State, Transport, Ms. Gbemisola Saraki made this known in a public hearing before the Joint House Committees today.
The house committees are Aids, Loans and Debt Management, and Rules and Business. According to the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s Total Public Debt Portfolio as of June 30 stood at $83.88 billion (₦25.7 trillion).
The 8th National Assembly had received the proposed projects for 2016 to 2018 Medium Term (Rolling) External Borrowing Plan put at 30 billion dollars. The ministers, however, presented the same proposal at 22.7 dollars and gave reasons why the country should have funds as soon as possible.
They emphasized that the loans would promote infrastructure development and job creation. The Minister of Finance said that the country had a revenue-generating challenge and stressed the need to invest in sustainable projects that would generate revenue.
Ahmed said the loan would be “strictly for infrastructure development. “So that we can address the deficit that we have. We know we must comply with some criteria; every kobo borrowed will be judiciously used,” she said.
Also, the Minister of Works and Housing said Nigeria’s debt portfolio and debt service were being considered. Fashola emphasized that investing in capital projects were needed to help the country achieve a self-sustaining economy.
“As we cannot ignore the concerns about debts, so we cannot ignore the concerns and demands for the provision of life-sustaining infrastructure. We have passed a budget of several hundreds of billions, but the reality is that over four years, we have never received full funding for any budget. And the reason is simple, there is a deficit, and we cannot finance it”.
“Some of the roads we are investing in will last for upwards of 20 to 30 years if well maintained and not abused. For rail assets, usually, the tracks will last for at least 100 years. Power plants like the Mambilla will be there for many decades”.
“So, we will be spending today’s money to secure tomorrow’s assets that will sustain our growing population and growing economy.” The Minister of State for Transport also said there was the need to complete Kano-Lagos and Niger Delta coast rails.