Senate rejects government’s loan requests, demands details
Two standing committees of the Senate have come down hard on two agencies seeking foreign loans and approval of their 2021 budget proposals.
The Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, during an interface with the Ministries of Agriculture, Finance and Debt Management Office (DMO) in Abuja, demanded for details of 995million Euros and $1.5 billion foreign credit before approval.
Also, the Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) refused sanctioning the N8.5 billion 2021 budget estimates tabled before it by FCT-IRS.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohmmamed Sabo Nanono and DMO’s Director General, Patience Oniha, failed to convince the panel on the imperativeness of the loans.
Consequently, two segments of the facilities being sought by the Federal Government for mechanised farming and execution of critical infrastructure across the 36 states to stave the third wave of COVID-19 in the country came under scrutiny.
The plan of action, submitted by Nanono concerning the 995 million Euros for large-scale farming across the 774 councils, was faulted by virtually all members of the committee, headed by Senator Clifford Ordia (PDP: Edo Central).
The minister had, in his submission, said since only 34 million hectares of the nation’s 92 million hectares of cultivable land were in use, 780 service centres had been set up nationwide for mechanised farming.
He said: “The ministry is in a bilateral partnership with Brazil where 300 tractors are to be bought and imported for the project this year once the loan is approved.
“The country, as it is today, is in deficit of 60,000 tractors, the reason the ministry is planning for procurement of 5,000 tractors every three years. All these plans of ours are geared towards food security in the country whose population would be 400 million in 40 years from now.”
Faulting the submission as an unyielding one, the lawmakers reminded the minister that beautiful plans were different from practical Implementation.
On the $1.5 billion loan proposal for the 36 state governments and the FCT for execution of critical COVID-19 infrastructure, Ordia directed the DMO boss to furnish the committee with the credit worthiness of the states, which she couldn’t produce.
Therefore, the committee resolved that she must supply the document before authorisation. Same fate befell the FCT-IRS based on discrepancies in its proposal.
The agency was directed to appear before the Senator Abubakar Kyari (APC: Borno North)-led panel tomorrow for fresh presentation.