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Senate okays FG’s $5.5b loan request

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Reps embargo implementation of new MultiChoice subscription

The Senate yesterday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s $5.513 billion external loan request. The approval followed the consideration and adoption of the report of the upper legislative chamber’s Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.

Giving a breakdown of the sources of the credit, the committee chairman, Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP: Edo Central), said the Federal Government would source $3,400,000,000 at a one per cent interest rate from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Rapid Financing Instrument to finance the 2020 proposed revised budget and other projects.

According to him, the Federal Government would also seek $1,500,000,000 from the World Bank for Development Policy Financing of the same budget at a 2.38 per cent interest rate, and another $500,000,000 from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the COVID-19 crisis response budget as well tackle the appropriation bill’s deficit at 1.315 per cent interest rate.

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The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is also to give a loan of $113,000,000 to the Federal Government to part-finance the 2020 revised budget deficit at 0.4 per cent interest rate.

Besides, the House of Representatives has directed MultiChoice Nigeria, the parent company of DSTV and GOTV, to suspend its 15 per cent hike in all bouquets on its networks, which took effect this Monday.

Adopting the motion moved yesterday in Abuja by Chinedu Ogah at the plenary, presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the lower legislative chamber mandated its committee on implementation of pay as you go tariff (PAYG) plan to investigate the matter and report back for further work.

Ogah had opposed the increase, noting the challenges posed to Nigerians by the coronavirus outbreak in the country. He had also accused the pay TV firm of charging “exorbitant rates despite not rendering a ‘per as you go’ service in line with global best practices.”

Claiming that since the beginning of the pandemic, the South African firm had not rendered any humanitarian assistance to the most populous black nation, the lawmaker argued that the increase in tariff would subject the people to more hardship.

But Lynda Ikpeazu (PDP: Anambra), who made a fruitless effort to stall the motion, maintained that the firm “must not be compelled to reduce charges since it is a private organisation operating in a free market economy.”

However, Speaker Gbajabiamila noted that it behoves the Green chamber to “intervene on behalf of Nigerians who have little or no choice but to patronise MultiChoice services for now.”

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Besides, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed immediate security for telecommunications infrastructure nationwide.The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, who disclosed this in statement by his spokesperson, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman yesterday in Abuja, stated that the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had been notified.

He said his ministry was ensuring enforcement through appropriate regulatory instruments. Pantami observed that the telecommunications industry depends on a number of infrastructure that plays a critical role in the smooth delivery of their services.

According to the minister, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a “massive migration to digital platforms and increased the level of importance of CNI to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.”

He pointed out that the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy had repositioned the ICT sector, corroborated by the recent ‘Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product Report’ released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showing that the industry contributed 14.07 per cent to the total real GDP in the first quarter of 2020.

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