By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate has commenced consideration of the request by President Muhammadu Buhari to borrow $29.96 billion to finance sundry projects, as it yesterday referred the President’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan request to its Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.
The President’s request was forwarded to the Committee for further legislative work following its presentation by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, during plenary.
The Committee has Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central) as Chairman and Senator Bima Mohammed Enagi (APC, Niger South) as Vice Chairman.
President Buhari had in a letter dated November 26, 2019, said the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.
This, according to him, stalled the Federal Government’s implementation of critical projects spanning across the mining, power, health, agricultural, water and educational sectors.
The letter read: “Pursuant to Section 21 and 27 of the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act, I hereby request for Resolutions of the Senate to approve the Federal Government’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan, as well as relevant projects under this plan.
“Specifically, the Senate is invited to note that: While I had transmitted the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan to the Eighth National Assembly in September, 2016, this plan was not approved in its entirety by the Legislature, only the Federal Government’s Emergency projects for the North East, (Four (4) States’ projects and one (1) China Exim Bank Assisted Railway Modernisation Projects for Lagos – Ibadan Segment) we’re approved, out of a total of thirty-nine (39) projects.
“The Outstanding projects in the plan that were not approved by the Legislature are, nevertheless, critical to the delivery of the Government’s policies and programmes relating to power, mining, roads, agriculture, health, water and educational sectors.
“These outstanding projects are well advanced in terms of their preparation, consistent with the 2016 Debt Sustainability Analysis undertaken by the Debt Management Office and were approved by the Federal Executive Council in August 2016 under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan.
“Accordingly, I have attached for your kind consideration relevant information from the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the specific outstanding projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan for which legislative approval is currently sought.
“I have also directed the Minister to make herself available to provide any additional information or clarification which you may require to facilitate prompt approval of the outstanding projects under this plan”, the letter read.