Buhari Seeks Approval for $30bn Foreign Borrowing, N180bn Budget Virement


·$10.7bn to go to infrastructure, $3.5bn for budget support, $11.3bn for other proposed projects

Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly to seek approval to borrow $29.96 billion under the External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan to address the infrastructure deficit in the health, education, water resources and other sectors.

The president is also seeking the approval of the legislature to vire N180.8 billion from the funds appropriated for special intervention (recurrent and capital) in the 2019 budget, to fund critical recurrent and capital items.

Buhari’s letter, which was read at plenary yesterday by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, indicated that the $29.96 billion is for proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274 billion, $10.686 billion for special national infrastructure projects, Eurobonds of $4.5 billion, and federal government budget support of $3.5 billion.

The president said the projects and programmes under the external borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluations, as well as the contributions they would make to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, poverty reduction, and protection of the nation’s vulnerable population.

Some of the funds from the external borrowing plan would be deployed to emergency projects in the North-east, particularly following the recent outbreak of polio after the de-listing of Nigeria from polio endemic countries.

The World Bank has provided a loan of $125 million for the federal government to procure vaccines and other ancillary facilities to stop the polio outbreak, and also provided $450 million to assist in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the North-east, the president disclosed.

The entire projects for the North-east, according to the president’s letter, are: polio eradication support and routine immunisation ($125 million), community and social development projects ($75 million), Nigeria States and Health Programme Investment Project ($125 million), State Education Programme Investment Project ($100 million), Nigeria Youth Employment and Social Support Project ($100 million), and Fadama III Project ($50 million).

“Given the emergency nature of these facilities and the need to consolidate the peace and return the region to normalcy, and considering the time it would take to get National Assembly’s approval, it has become inevitable to request for the National Assembly leadership’s approval, pending the consideration and approval of the 2016-2018 borrowing plan by the National Assembly to enable us disburse these funds immediately,” Buhari said in the letter.

Similarly, in the letter seeking virement of funds within the 2016 budget, the president provided a breakdown of items to which the N180.8 billion would be allocated.

He sought the virement of N166.6 billion (for recurrent expenditure) from the Special Intervention (recurrent) for which the sum of N300 billion was appropriated, which now has a balance of N275 billion, and N14.2 billion (for capital expenditure) from capital in the federal government special intervention programme for which N200 billion was appropriated, which has a balance of N145 billion.

A breakdown of the proposed expenditure is: Public Service Wage Adjustment – N71,800,215,270, Service Wide Vote: Contingency – N1,200,000,000, Service Wide Vote: Margin for Increase in Cost – N2,000,000,000, Ministry of Interior: Cadet Feeding – Police Academy, Wudil, Kano – N932,400,000, and Amnesty Programme – N35,000,000,000.

Other items are internal operations of the Armed Forces – N5,205,930,270, Service Wide Vote: Operation Lafiya Dole – N13,933,093,000, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development: NYSC – N19,792,018,400, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Foreign Missions – N14,667,230,014, and Ministry of Education: Augmentation of Meal Subsidy/Direct Teaching and Lab Cost – N900,000.

The letter indicated that N1.2 billion was proposed to fund the salary shortfall in the Public Complaints Commission, while N12,708,367,476 was proposed for the capital budget of the Nigerian Air Force, and N1.5 billion for capital supplementation: Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).

“You may also wish to be informed that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has also requested for virement of the sum of N300 million appropriated under the 2016 Appropriation of the Transmission Company of Nigeria for the construction of a 132 KVA substation at Gwaram, Jigawa State with Project code no. TCN 01B023829 to the construction of two 60MVA 132/33 in Gagarawa, Jigawa State.

“However it was observed that while the line to be vired from exists in the budget book published by the National Assembly, the lines to be vired to, do not exist. It is therefore recommended that the sum of N300 million meant for the construction of the 132 KVA substation at Gwaram, Jigawa State, be vired to budget line TCN 01B021775 for the reconstruction of fallen transmission towers replacement, replacement of glass insulators, etc, which has an appropriation of N4,880,000,000,” Buhari said in the letter.

Dogara, after reading out the letter, said that the requests of the president and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) would be discussed and debated by the House on Thursday.