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DMO reveals why Finance Ministry excluded S/East from $30bn infrastructure loan

by on February 17, 2017
 
Facts have emerged on the exclusion of the South East zone from the Federal Government’s $30 billion foreign loan to provide infrastructure in various parts of the country.
In the words of the Di­rector-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, the International Economic Relation Department (IECD) in the Ministry of Finance excluded the South East from benefitting from the loan.
Nwankwo disclosed this on Thursday when he fielded questions from the Senator Shehu Sani-led Committee on Foreign and Local Debt. He said that Nigeria’s exter­nal and domestic debt stock had risen to N17.36 trillion.
The DG said that despite the current economic reces­sion in the country, Nigeria has not reached the level of seeking for debt forgiveness from other countries of the world.
According to him, “Nige­ria doesn’t need debt forgive­ness from other countries.”
A breakdown of the debt burden put external debt ($11.41 billion) or N3.48 trillion and domestic debt ($45.98 billion) or N13.88 trillion.
Nwankwo noted that the disaggregated external debt stock on the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territo­ry (FCT) as at June 2016 was $3.65 billion while that of domestic debt stock of states and the FCT as at September was $2.822.89 billion.
Senator Sani had at the commencement of the Budget Defence, raised the alarm at the enthusiasm with which the Executive rushed to borrow money to run the economy without recourse to high interest rates and its burden on generations yet unborn.
He said: “There is a gen­uine fear of our debt profile which is on the increase with a pressure on the interest rate on our budget which the National Assembly is con­cerned about.
“The committee will not accept any borrowing just for the sake of borrowing, but to finance critical sectors and infrastructure that will im­pact positively on the econo­my thereby reducing the suf­fering of teeming Nigerians who are below poverty level.”
A member of the com­mittee, Senator Obinna Ogba, cautioned that any money borrowed by the Fed­eral Government should be spread to the geopolitical zones, noting that he was aware that the South East zone is always being shortch­anged and warned that “this time around, we will not ac­cept it.”
Senator Obinna recalled that when President Mu­hammadu Buhari presented the $30 billion loan, he enu­merated the key areas that the loan would provide in­frastructure and asked the DG: “Can you tell me why the South East was omitted in that document?
Nwankwo replied: “I can’t tell you Sir, that ques­tion will be answered by the government department re­sponsible for compiling the list. I am sure they will have adequate explanation to give you the answer.
Senator Ogba replied: No! No! Those government officials that you mention did not come here to provide the committee with what the money is to be used for and so you must tell us.
Nwankwo said: “It is the International Economic Re­lations Department (IERD) of the Federal Ministry of Fi­nance that is responsible for that document. So, there is no need for me to answer for them.”

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