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Reps Caution Ministry Over $200m Foreign Loans

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The House of Representatives Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management has cautioned the Federal Ministry of Finance over its allocation of $200 million for foreign Loans requests from the State Governments.

Members of the Committee, led by Hon. Adeyinka Ajayi (APC Osun), were furious that the Ministry insisted that the loan request had been pegged to $200 million in spite of the fact that the House had the mandate to scrutinize and approve such requests.

The members were irked by a Deputy Director of the Ministry of Finance, Benson Odaura, who represented the Ministry and insisted that the French Development Agency component of the foreign borrowing plan has a total ceiling of $200 million.

Odaura also stated that the Ministry would determine how much each of the four states would get from the $200 million approved adding that the development agencies must deal directly with the Ministry and not the states.

But the committee said they had the mandate of the House to scrutinize the foreign loans process by state governments, adding that a number of parameters they must be fulfilled in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act under the oversight of the committee.

He stressed the fact that all applications for foreign loans from state governments must meet the requirements of section 44 and 44 (2) of the fiscal responsibility act.

“We will not cede that discretion to the Ministry of Finance,” Ajayi vowed.

“The Ministry didn’t say they had only four states in the borrowing plan. The issue of states came up during the interaction with the French development Agency component of the borrowing plan.

“The French Development Agency Component as requested by Mr. President is in respect of four states. Those four states are Kano, Enugu, Ogun and Plateau State. Now. That agency had the sum of 200 million dollars lumped together.

“In our interaction with respective states, each state made presentation to their own requests as a component of the $200 million. And in computing, we realized that we will exceed the $200 million going by the request of the states. So we needed the Ministry to explain what it’s going to do. But what we said was that we were not going to cede that discretion to the ministry.

Another member of the committee, Hon. Jones Onyeriere said the Ministry of Finance “is being mischievous. They can’t come here with an omnibus proposal. Loans are given on request by the states,” he said.

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