Three Ministers insist on inevitability of borrowing to meet infrastructural needs.

ABUJA – Three Ministers comprising of Finance, Mrs. Zinab Ahmed; Works and Housing, Babatunfe Fashola, the Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki as well as the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, DMO, Patience Oniha yesterday made this submission during a session with the House of Representatives Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management headed by Hon. Safana Dayyabu.

The Ministers who appeared before the committee to defend the loan request of $22.718 billion made by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Senate, underscored the urgent need to fund the budget, improved on infrastructure development and create jobs with the loan.

In her presentation, the Finance Minister, Ahmed said “We need to invest in roads, rails, and to be able to grow at a growth better than we are growing now. They are strictly for infrastructure development. So that we can address the deficit that we have. We know we must comply with some criteria.”

The borrowing figure was placed at $22.718 billion, the minister said that “Nigeria does not have a debt sustainability problem but revenue challenge.”

“Every Kobo borrowed will be judiciously used.” She added that

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola equally said that the government cannot ignore the demands for infrastructural sustainability.

“It is right to have this hearing because we cannot ignore the concerns of the members of the public, the debt profile of the country.

“As we cannot ignore the concerns about debts, so we cannot ignore the concerns and demands for the provision of life sustaining infrastructure.

“So, everybody wants a road, everybody wants a rail project, everybody wants a port and efficient airports. They want to ensure that our ports are efficient so that business can function more effectively, so that clearing of goods can happen more quickly and cheaply.

“And were in the midst of these physical challenges that she (the Minister Finance, Budget and National Planning) have identified, the revenue are not just enough to meet these challenges.”

Fashola said that there are a total of 524 on going road projects across the country but there is no money to execute them.

He said: “524 roads projects currently being executed. 73 billion released this year. We have contractors willing to do the work but we cannot pay them.

“We have had deficit budgets for a long time and so we have to borrow.

“Over 4 years, we have never received full funding for any budget. There is deficit and we cannot finance it. We must find a away to finance these assets. We will be spending today money to secure tomorrow assets”.

Asked to speak on the current status of East -West Road, the minister said it was not under his ministry.

But attempting the question, Fashola said that a substantial part of the road had been completed.

“East west road not under my ministry. It is under Niger delta ministry. I can say here, that a substantial part of that road has been executed. I drove through the stretch in 2016. Large part of it has been completed”, he said.

On Benin-Auchi-Okene road, the Minister also said: “From the briefings from ministry of finance, there are external borrowings. There are also internal borrowings. The road is being funded under SKUUK which is local borrowing. The SKUUK is not enough to fund all the toads. We get N100b, we shared it across all the 6 zones”.

He also denied insinuations that Nigerian roads were not built up to the standard.

“Nigerian roads are designed to global standards. We are not going things as we want but according to global standards”, Fashola said.

The view of Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Sakari was no different on why the federal government needed to borrow as she pointed out the need to complete Kano-Lagos and Niger Delta coast rails....

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