Non-approval of $30b loan not hindering projects, Senate tells Amaechi
• National Assembly to vote 15% for health
The Senate has dismissed the claim by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, that the refusal of the legislature to approve the $29.96bn external borrowing plan of the Federal Government is frustrating some critical infrastructural projects as false.
Amaechi was reported to have made the statement last Monday in Ilorin during the North Central Town Hall meeting by the Federal Government.The Senate, in a statement by its spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi yesterday said the statement was not only false and contradictory to available facts, but also portrayed the minister as not in tune with the position of the government in which he is serving.
According to Abdullahi, the only request for approval from the executive for loan was the one dated January 27, 2017 and signed by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo seeking a “resolution of the National Assembly For the Issuance of $1billion EuroBond In the International Capital Market For The Funding of the 2016 Budget Deficit” and we immediately granted the approval.
Abdullahi said: “In the letter quoted above, the government mentioned the two rail lines cited by the minister as part of the projects for which the Eurobond will be utilised. So, we cannot understand what the grouse of Mr. Amaechi is.
“That statement was based on false and misinformed premise and a mere attempt to incite the people against the National Assembly. The minister should therefore withdraw the statement,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has said it would increase appropriation to the health sector in 2017 budget. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Lanre Tejuosho (APC, Ogun Central), said in Abuja yesterday the National Health Act stipulates that 1 percent of Consolidated Revenue Fund be set aside to the health sector.
In the N7.298 trillion 2017 budget currently before the National Assembly, there is zero allocation to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, while N304, 190, 961, 402 is allocated to the health budget, representing 4.17percent.
Tejuosho said: “There shall be increased appropriation by the National Assembly to the health sector in 2017 in line with the African Union Abuja Declaration of 2001, which recommends a minimum of 15 percent of total annual budgets to be dedicated to health.