Senator Ehigie Uzamere
Chairman of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, Senator Ehigie Uzamere, has explained why the legislature gave approval to both the federal and state governments, request for foreign loans amounting to $7.9 billion under the Middle Term 2012-2014 External Borrowing Framework.
In an exclusive interview granted THISDAY, Uzamere said: “I think the reason why government prefers the foreign loan to local is because of the huge debt that has piled from domestic debts.
“May be if we reduce the internal loans the economy will get a boost and be put back on the path of quick recovery through stimulating the economy and enhancing overall development in the country,” he said.
THISDAY gathered that figures on the debt portfolio obtained from the secretariat of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts showed that the country’s foreign debt stood at $6.04 billion, domestic debt N6.152 trillion, while local contractors debt aggregated to N74.68 billion as at December 2012.
On the apprehension which warranted the call for caution on foreign loans by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), said Sanusi’s call was belated as it has already been overtaken with passage of the Medium Term 2012-2014 External Borrowing Plan that was passed into law and approved after careful consideration and scrutiny by both chambers of the National Assembly.
He said: “What is important now is the judicious management of these loans which should be to the benefit of every Nigerian. I think that the issue raised by the CBN governor, who is part of the executive and who should have the know how, is belated for now.”
Uzamere, while expressing confidence in the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said: “Well I think the minister coordinating the economy should know better, because she is more knowledgeable in that field and I don’t think we should express that fear.”
He also hinted that it would no longer be business as usual for governors, who were requesting for foreign loans for their various developmental projects, adding that the Senate would lay more emphasis on robust oversight by the relevant committees on the implementation of these projects for which the loans were being sought.
On the issue with Lagos and Kaduna States withdrawing their requests, he said: “The issue with Lagos State has resolved with federal government. It was Kaduna State Government that withdrew from one of their requests on the urban and rural water scheme development project.”
Concerning the effective implementation of the 2013 budget by the executive, he added that it had become incumbent on the executive to do their work more diligently while the lawmakers will perform their oversight responsibility to the benefit of all.
“This time around, I am expecting a budget implementation performance of mare than 80 per cent,” Uzamere said.