Buhari wants NASS to approve $29 billion external loan

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly for the approval of the Federal Government’s external borrowing plan, totaling $29.960 billion, covering 2016 to 2018.

The President’s request for the approval was contained in a letter dated October 20, 2016, and read on the floor of the House of Representatives by Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara, on Tuesday.

According to President Buhari, the sum of $11.274 billion is for special National infrastructure projects, while the sum of $10.686 billion is for Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government Budget Support of $3.5 billion.

The President also noted that, “projects and programmes in the borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluations as well as the contribution they make to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation and poverty reduction, and protection of the most vulnerable and very poor segment of the Nigerian society,” adding that the selected projects and programmes would be implemented in the 36 states and the FCT.

He explained further that the projects cut across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes, and governance and financial management reforms among others.

Specifically, the President requested for National Assembly’s urgent approval of the sum of $575 million World Bank loan facilities for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the North East region of the country, considering the time it might take to conclude the consideration and approval of the external borrowing plan.

He added that: “With the relative peace and stability in the North East, it has become extremely urgent to start reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region in order to create jobs for the people and rehabilitate schools to get children off the streets and into schools,” he explained.

In a related development, President Buhari, in another communication to the parliament, dated October 24, 2016, has requested for the approval of movement of about N180. 84 billion allocated to certain subheads in the 2016 budget to other areas he described as “critical expenditure items” which needed urgent funding.

“This request has arisen due to a number of reasons including; shortfalls in the provisions for personnel costs, inadequate provision ab inito for some items like the amnesty programme, continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency, and depreciation of the Naira,” the President explained.

Buhari, who noted that budgeted revenues were running behind target largely due to the renewed violence in the Niger Delta, and without supplementary revenue sources, stressed that several MDAs have in the course of implementing the 2016 budget, “presented issues pertaining to salary shortfalls, settlement of which has led to the depletion of the Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA),” which had an allocation of N33.597 billion, but now with a balance of N2.758 billion.

The President further explained that due the shortfalls and other challenges earlier highlighted, “the total recurrent expenditure requirement is N166.63 billion while the capital expenditure is N14.208 billion.