Barely 24 hours after it assured its readiness to approve the Federal Government’s 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing Plan transmitted to it a few weeks ago, the Senate on Tuesday referred the Plan to its Committee on Local and Foreign Debts for legislative work.
The President’s request was forwarded to the committee, which has Senator Clifford Ordia as chairman and Senator Bima Mohammed Enagi as vice chairman, for consideration following its presentation by the Senate Leader, Sen. Yahaya Abdullahi, during plenary.
Specifically, President Buhari had, in a letter dated November 26, 2019, pointed out that the Eighth National Assembly approved only a part of the External Borrowing request forwarded to it in September 2016.
According to him, the piecemeal approval by the defunct Assembly stalled government’s implementation of critical projects, spanning mining, power, health, agricultural, water and educational sectors.
The letter read in part: “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 Exim 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 programmes 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.”
The President stated that he attached for the upper chamber’s consideration relevant information from the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the specific outstanding projects under the 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing plan for which legislative approval was being sought.
In addition, he stated the he had also directed the Minister to make herself available to provide any additional information or clarification which the Senate may require to facilitate prompt approval of the outstanding projects under the Plan.