President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, sought the approval of the National Assembly for external borrowing plan of $29.960 billion to execute key infrastructure projects across the country between 2016 and 2018.
The President, in separate letters to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, also requested for approval to vire N180 billion of the N500 billion appropriated for Special Intervention Programme as in 2016 budget, to enable the government finance other key projects.
Appropriated for Special Intervention (Recurrent) and Special Intervention (Capital) for the funding of critical recurrent and capital items and Request for Approval of Federal Government 2016 – 2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan, were read on the floors of both chambers yesterday.
According to him, "The total cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960 billion, made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274 billion, Special National Infrastructure projects $10.686 billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and Federal Government budget support of $3.5 billion."
The President, who also explained that the loan was very necessary, in view of the serious infrastructure deficit in the country, said: “Considering the huge infrastructure deficit currently being experienced in the country and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap, in the face of dwindling resources and the inability of our annual budgetary provisions to bridge the deficit, it has become necessary to resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financing gap, which will largely be applied to key infrastructure projects, namely power, railway and road projects, among others.”
He said the N180 billion virement would be moved from monies already appropriated for special intervention programmes, both recurrent and capital, for funding of critical recurrent and capital items.
The President added that the request came up because of shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs; inadequate provision, ab initio, for some items like the amnesty programme; continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency; and depreciation of the Naira.
The projects to be financed with the N180.839 billion include the Amnesty programme, National Youth Serve Corps, NYSC, and the Public Service Wage Adjustment, PSWA. President Buhari explained that external borrowing plan would be targeted at projects which cut across all sectors, with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education , water supply, among others.