Senate picks holes in FG foreign loans

• Suspends approval of N8.5billion FCT ― IRS budget

The Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, on Tuesday, took the Ministry of Agriculture and Finance and the Debt Management Office to task over foreign loans totalling 995 million Euros and $1.5 billion foreign loans.

The Committee led by Senator representing Edo Central, Clifford Ordia, demanded convincing details before approval.

According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohmmamed Sabo Nanono, and the Director-General of Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, the loan being sought for, is meant for mechanised farming and execution of critical infrastructure across the 36 states of the federation to stop in the third wave of COVID-19.

The plan of action was however faulted by virtually all members of the Senate Committee.

The Minister in his presentation before the Committee expressed concern that out of the 92million hectares of cultivable land available in the country, only 34 million hectares are utilised now further disclosed that 780 service centres have been set up across the country for mechanised farming.

He said: “The Ministry is seriously in bilateral partnership with Brazil where 300 tractors are to be bought and imported for the project this year once the loan is approved.

“The country as it is today is in a deficit of 60, 000 tractors, the reason why the Ministry is planning for procurement of 5,000 tractors every three years.

“All these plans of ours, are geared towards food security in the country the population of which will be 400 million in about 40years from now.”

The Committee members in their individual remarks however maintained that the novel idea would hit the rocks at the implementation stage.

Senator representing Osun West, Adelere Oriolowo, who incidentally is an Agricultural Engineer insisted that the plan would not yield the desired results.

He said: “The tractors you are planning to bring from Brazil, will in no distant time, run aground by people who are not trained for proper usage of such machines as it happened in Osun and Borno States recently.

“Capacity building is very important for people to be engaged in the mechanised farming, which we didn’t hear from your presentation and besides, are you in touch with the real farmers who if actually involved, will make the project impactful.

“Beautiful plans like the ones you have just unfolded, are not new in this country. Please rejig the plans to be in tune with productivity needs of the real or rural farmers if you don’t want the money being sought for to go down in drains.”

Aside Senators Ordia and Oriolowo, others who spoke in a similar vein were Senator representing Kaduna central,
Uba Sani, his counterpart from Niger South, Birma and Senator Francis Alimikhena, representing Edo North.

Speaking on the $1.5billion loan being sought for the 36 states government and the federal capital Territory, chairman of the Committee, Clifford Ordia, directed the DMO to furnish his Committee with the creditworthiness of the states, which she couldn’t provide.

The Committee resolved that the DG, DMO, must furnish it with such information before approval could be given for the loan.

“We have listened to the presentations made by the Minister of Agriculture on the need for the approval of the 995m Euros loan and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, on the need for the approval of $1.5bn loans meant for the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory, but the required details of planned execution requested for, must be given before the approval.”

The Senate Committee on FCT led by Senator Abubakar Kyari equally rejected the FCT budget proposal of N8.5 billion for 2021, citing discrepancies in the proposals.

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Senate picks holes in FG foreign loans

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In the past two weeks, Nigeria recorded 3,414 new COVID-19 infections, which is the lowest the country has recorded since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic in December.

In the penultimate week, (March 7 – 13), there were 2,300 cases, a reduction when compared to the 2,817 recorded in the previous week’s (February 28 – March 6)…Senate picks holes in FG foreign loans

Senate picks holes in FG foreign loans

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