2021 Budget: PDP, APC clash over proposed N6tn fresh loans

Excercise caution, MAN appeals to National Assembly

The Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress on Wednesday clashed over the Federal Government’s 2021 proposed N6.17tn loans.

The PDP’s spokesman, Kola Ologbodiyan, said the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had an insatiable appetite for loans.

In his response, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, told The PUNCH by telephone that the PDP was confused.

On its part, the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria called for caution, saying the National Assembly should ensure due diligence before approving loans for the Federal Government.

Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while defending the 2021 budget proposals at the sitting of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Loans on Tuesday, said Nigeria’s public debt would hit N38tn by December 2021.

She disclosed that the total public debt stock comprising external and domestic debts of states and the Federal Government as well as the Federal Capital Territory stood at N31.01tn ( $85.90bn) as of June 30, 2020.

According to her, it will rise to N32.51tn by December 2020 and N38.68tn by December 31, 2021. This means Nigeria will borrow N6.17tn in 2021.

Also on Tuesday, the minister said the Federal Government would borrow $2.1bn from Brazil to finance agriculture.

Commenting on the Federal Government’s plan to raise Nigeria’s debt profile by N6.17tn in 2021, the PDP criticised the President.

The opposition party’s spokesman, Ologbodiyan, advised the National Assembly not to be Buhari’s rubber stamp.

He said, “It ( the plan to get more loans) is the height of insensitivity. The Buhari regime’s insatiable appetite for loans is unequalled in our national history.

“Nigerians have yet to recover from the news of the mortgaging of our sovereignty to the Chinese in exchange for loans, now, we are looking for loans from Brazil.

“At the rate this regime is going, we may soon be borrowing money from Togo. What has the Buhari regime done with all the money it has borrowed since 2015? The other day, they told Nigerians they want to borrow money to construct railway lines to Niger Republic.

“We expect the National Assembly to demand that the regime account for all the loans it has collected in the name of this country since 2015 before entertaining any such request.

“We also expect the National Assembly leadership to look beyond partisan politics and consider the future of this country in taking decisions. Acting as a rubber stamp to the executive in such matters, is certainly not in Nigeria’s best interest,” the party said.

The APC said the PDP was worried that the APC had within just five years succeeded in areas where successive PDP administrations failed in 16 years.

The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary said, “The PDP is simply confused that we are succeeding where it failed. The PDP governments collected all sorts of loans with nothing to show.

“But since 2015, all of the loans this government has collected there is evidence for all to see. Is it the loans for rail lines ? What about our ongoing road projects across all the six-geopolitical zones?

“The PDP should go and settle their quarrels and see whether they can build a party. Right now, we don’t have an opposition.”

Conduct due diligence before approving loan – MAN

But the acting Director-General of MAN, Ambrose Oruche, said he was in support of borrowing, if the funds would be channelled effectively to solve pressing issues.

He added that the application of the funds should be able to generate revenue that could be used to repay the loans.

Oruche stated, “The National Assembly should do due diligence before approval. Every loan application should be properly evaluated and reviewed.

“I am not against borrowing but effective utilisation of the money is necessary to be able to repay the loan. If we borrow, how are we to ensure that the money is properly utilised? From which source do we intend to repay the loan?”

According to him, Nigeria spends so much money to service loans the government borrows and also on repayment, which is not good for a developing economy.

Don’t approve fresh loans now, SERAP tells N’Assembly

Also, the Deputy Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Kolawole Oludare, said it would be improper for the National Assembly to approve fresh loans “until the President gives account of how his government has spent billions of dollars in loans that have been obtained since assuming office in 2015.”

Oludare also commented on the House of Representatives’ suspension of loans’ probe a few months ago.

He said, “It is absolutely wrong for the leadership of the National Assembly to suspend the probe into the process and sanctity of all the loans that have been obtained by this government

“The National Assembly should ask President Buhari to publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 2015 including details of the interest accruing from the loans, and details of the projects on which the loans have been spent.”

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