BusinessDay
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$29.9bn loan: Senate queries 8 govt. agencies over failure to appear, defend allocation

The Senate on Wednesday queried eight government ministries that failed to appear before it to furnish details and defend  their allocations in the $29.9 billion loan for which the federal government is seeking approval.

The queried federal ministries are education, power,  Niger Delta, humanitarian and disaster management affairs, water resources, health,  communication and agriculture.

Consequently, the Senate has given a one-week grace period for the defaulting ministries to appear before it and to proffer details of their allocations in the loan.

The agencies and states named to benefit from the loan, when approved, are about 20 but eight are yet to appear before it, according to chairman, Senate committee on local and foreign debts, Senator Clifford Odia.

Reporting the matter to Senate on Wednesday during plenary,  Odia further stated that the agencies are expected to appear before the committee to offer detailed information and explain the nature of projects on which the loan is meant to be utilised.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, appeared before the Senate Committee on local and foreign debts to defend the federal government’s request to borrow the $29.9billion.

The minister claimed that the 8th Senate had approved part of the loan and that government is now seeking approval for only $22.8billion.

Also, minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed and his power and FCT counterparts, Babatunde Fashola, and Mohammed Bello, as well as representatives of governors of the three states of Kaduna, Katsina and Kogi, among several others had appeared before the Senate committee on local and foreign debts, on Tuesday.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan who directed the queried agencies to immediately appear, said the Senate would not tolerate any act of unseriousness from any ministry.

“This Senate is committed to ensuring that such important issues like the loan is treated with seriousness by both sides, therefore we need the details;  we need the information, and so I ask the ministries that are named to have not appeared before the committee to do so between today (Wednesday) and Monday next week,” Lawan directed.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in November, 2019, resent to the 9th National Assembly, an External Borrowing request of $29.9 billion which was previously rejected by the 8th Senate.

Buhari had said the loan would be used to provide infrastructure projects, reduce poverty and enhance rehabilitation of the North East.

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