President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday presented, for the second time, the $29.96bn 2016-2018 external borrowing plan to the Senate for its consideration and approval.
Buhari made the request a day after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned Nigeria against rising debts.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) has said out of Nigeria’s total debt profile of N25.7tn as of June 2019, external borrowing accounts for about 32 percent while the 68 percent is domestic.
He made the request in letters forwarded to the Legislature and read on Thursday on the floors of both chambers of the National Assembly in Abuja.
In the letters, the President explained that the request was for specific outstanding projects under the 2016-2018 borrowing plan.
The leadership of the federal parliament led by Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara invariably rejected the request in November 2016 arguing that further loans would have widened Nigeria’s debt profile.
Buhari, however, explained that the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.
This, according to President Buhari, stalled the Federal Government’s implementation of critical projects spanning across the mining, power, health, agricultural, water, and educational sectors.
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, read the letter to lawmakers present in the Senate chamber.
The letter read: “Pursuant to Section 21 and 27 of the Debt Management Office (Establishment) Act, I hereby request for Resolutions of the Senate to approve the Federal Government’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan, as well as relevant projects under this plan.
“Specifically, the Senate is invited to note that: While I had transmitted the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan to the Eighth National Assembly in September 2016, this plan was not approved in its entirety by the Legislature, only the Federal Government’s Emergency projects for the North East, (Four (4) States’ projects and one (1) China Exam Bank Assisted Railway Modernisation Projects for Lagos – Ibadan Segment) we’re approved, out of a total of thirty-nine (39) projects.
“The Outstanding projects in the plan that were not approved by the Legislature are, nevertheless, critical to the delivery of the Government’s policies and programs relating to power, mining, roads, agriculture, health, water and educational sectors.
“These outstanding projects are well advanced in terms of their preparation, consistent with the 2016 Debt Sustainability Analysis undertaken by the Debt Management Office and were approved by the Federal Executive Council in August 2016 under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan.
“Accordingly, I have attached, for your kind consideration, relevant information from the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning the specific outstanding projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan for which legislative approval is currently sought.
“I have also directed the Minister to make herself available to provide any additional information or clarification which you may require to facilitate prompt approval of the outstanding projects under this plan.