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As part of China’s loan conditions to Nigeria, Nigerian govt must engage Chinese firms to execute projects

Finance Minister allays fear over gov borrowings, says N25.7tr debt not worrisome

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has confirmed that a total of N654 billion has so far been released for the implementation of capital projects through various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as at October 2019.

Ahmed made this known during the Ministry’s 2019/2020 budget defence held at the instance of the House Committee on Finance chaired by Abiodun Faleke.

The lawmakers had expressed displeasure over the stringent conditions imposed on Nigeria by the Chinese government on loans obtained to fund some infrastructural projects funded in Nigeria.

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Ahmed noted that loans obtained from the China Exim Bank was at 3% interest rate for major projects being executed including rehabilitation of 4 Airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt; while the conditions attached to the funding include implementation of the contracts by Chinese firms and use of Chinese personnel, just as she acknowledged the need to look into the technology transfer issue.

When asked about the bailouts given to states, private sector especially in the power sector as well as banks.

The minister said states that took the federal government loan for bailout had started repaying since September.

Speaking further on companies bailed out, he noted that the “institutions are under Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), currently AMCON is stressed, the assets bought by AMCON are not repaying back.”

Faleke had expressed concern over $470 million debt burden from the failed Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) and other frivolous line items such as telephone charges in the annual budget estimates/Appropriation Act for the MDAs.

Responding, the minister asked the committee to direct all concerns to the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Musa Mohammed who stands in a better position to give an update on the status of the project.

The committee chairman had also questioned the $470 million debt burden from the failed Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) and other frivolous line items such as telephone charges in the annual budget estimates/Appropriation Act for the MDAs.

Responding, the minister asked the committee to direct all concerns to the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Musa Mohammed who stands in a better position to give an update on the status of the project.

Faleke also asked the ministry to remove all repetitive items in the budget.

“There is repetition of similar items, how are we sure they are buying the furniture annually? In National Assembly, we are not buying furniture annually. Most of the people we had here defending their budget said that is the template. You need to look into it,” Faleke said.

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