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Senate demands details of N23.7tr CBN facility to FG

By John Akubo, Abuja
18 January 2023   |   5:19 am
Following opposition to restructuring of the N23.7 trillion Ways and Means facility advanced the Federal Government by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the last 10 years, the Senate, yesterday, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed ...
Nigeria Senate

Nigeria Senate President Ahmad Lawan. Photo/facebook/TopeBrown/NigerianSenate

• Blames Ahmed, Emefiele for delayed approval

Following opposition to restructuring of the N23.7 trillion Ways and Means facility advanced the Federal Government by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the last 10 years, the Senate, yesterday, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele, to furnish its Special Committee with details within three days.

The hallowed chamber, which witnessed a rowdy session over the request last December, warned that in view of next month’s presidential and National Assembly elections, it would be forced to adjourn plenary this week, or next Tuesday at the most, to participate in the campaigns.

The warning followed a motion by its Leader and chairman of the special panel raised to interface with the minister and CBN Governor on the dedicated credit, Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC Sokoto East).

Citing Order 40 of the Senate Standing Rules, the chairman informed the chamber that several attempts by the committee since December 28, 2022 to have an audience with the two officials had been unsuccessful.

He said: “As a special committee (raised) for an urgent and thorough assignment, we hit the ground running immediately after composition on December 28 last year.

“For details on the N23.7 trillion Ways and Means Restructuring, six vital questions were raised – five for the CBN governor and one for the Finance Minister – but their trips abroad prevented us from asking them the questions.

“Now that they are around, we request the Senate to give us additional three days for a thorough work and submission of the report.” Responding, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, noted that the request by President Muhammad Buhari remains a serious issue that must not be treated with levity.

He pledged the upper legislative chamber’s readiness to give approval after scrutiny. The President had, in the separate letters to both chambers of the National Assembly on December 21, 2022, seeking their approval, observed: “The Ways and Means advance by the CBN to the federal government has been a funding option to the Federal Government to cater for short-term or emergency finance to fund delayed government’s expected cash receipt of physical deficit.

“The Ways and Means balances as at December 19, 2022 were N23.7 trillion.

“I have approved the securitisation of the ways and means balances along the following terms – Amount: N23.7 trillion; Tenure: 40 years; Moratorium on principal repayment: three years; Pricing interest rate: nine per cent.

“Your concurrence and approval is sought to allow for the implementation of same.” But moves by the Senate to sanction the request during passage of the N21.83 trillion 2023 budget on December 28 last year failed, making it to set up the Senator Gobir-led special committee to seek vital information.

However, President Buhari, while reacting to the lawmakers’ objection, told the Senate during a meeting that should they continue with their resolve to block the plan to restructure government loans from the CBN, the country would be made to pay extra $4 billion to service its debt. He indicated that failure to grant the securitisation approval would also cost government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023.