Senate approves Buhari’s $5.5bn loan request

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The senate has approved the $5.5 billion loan request of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari had asked the upper legislative chamber for the approval to borrow $2.5 billion to finance the 2017 budget and $3 billion to refinance domestic debts.

The lawmakers approved the president’s request after the senate’s committee on local and foreign debts presented its report on Tuesday.

While moving a motion for the senate to consider the request, Shehu Sani, chairman of the committee, said the projects captured in the loan were “essential for rapid economic and social development of Nigeria”.

“The projects when completed will create job through its chain of downstream economic activities,” Sani said.

“The construction of the second runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport will enhance the safety of the air passengers, increase the use of airports by international airlines thus increase the revenue of the government.

“That the rail projects when completed will reduce the use of roads, its attendant congestion and thus minimise the cost of road maintenance.

“The Mamblilla hydro power project which has long been abandoned when completed will add substantially to the national grids thus improve power output of the country. The projects will improve the federal government’s revenue.”

On his part, Ahmed Lawan, senate leader, said the loan if properly applied, would make a difference in the country’s economy.

“The $3 billion, for the general public to understand, is not a loan that will be used today. This is a for payments for loans or debts incurred before and it is cheaper to borrow from outside because of th me current exchange rate of the dollar,” Lawan said.

“So we are simply refinancing the payment of the debts. N2.5 billion will definitely, when fully and properly applied will make a huge difference in our economy.”

Before putting the question, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, said the senate would always partner with the executive on matters that concern the welfare of Nigerians

“Let me state clearly that this senate will continue to partner with the federal government on matter that concerns the federal republic of Nigeria,” he said.

“Implementation of the 2017 budget is key, whatever needs to be done to ensure that it is implemented, we will continue to have the support of the senate.”

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