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Buhari seeks NASS loan approval

Buhari seeks NASS approval for $30bn loan

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. President Buhari The two letters, titled,  Request for Virement of Funds 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 $3.5billion. “ 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. According to the letter which was read at the Senate by the Deputy President of Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, the Amnesty Programme will get a total sum of N35 billion from the transfer. It added that the total recurrent expenditure requirement to be transferred was N166,630,886,954, while the capital expenditure requirement to be transferred was N14,208,367,476″ A breakdown of the specific areas the N180.9 billion would be transferred to showed that Public Service Wage Adjustment takes the lion share of N71,800,215,270; followed by the Amnesty Programme, which took N35billion while the mobilisation of corps members received N19,792,018,400. Others are: Foreign Missions which gulped N14,667,230,014; Operation Lafiya Dole takes N13,933,093,000; Nigerian Air Force takes N12,708,367,476; Internal Operations of the Armed Forces takes N5,205,930,270; Margin for Increase in Cost takes N2billion, while Presidential Initiative for the North East received N1.5billion. Also, Contingency, salary shortfall for Public Complaints Commission got N1.2billion each, even as Cadet Feeding of Police Academy, Kano, Augmentation of Meal subsidy for Unity Colleges received N932,400,000 and N900,000,000 respectively. On the need to make more funds available to the amnesty programme, the President said, “Only N20,000,000,000 (already fully released) was provided in the 2016 budget for the Niger Delta Amnesty Progr mme. “Consequently, the allowances to ex-militants have only been paid up to May 2016. This is creating a lot of restiveness and compounding the security challenge in the Niger Delta,” Buhari said. On NYSC funding, the President said: “The Provision for NYSC in the 2016 budget is inadequate to cater for the number of corpers to be mobilized this year. In fact, an additional N8.5billion is required to cover the backlog of 129, 469 corps members who are currently due for call-up but would otherwise be left out till next year due to funding constraints.” President who, also explained why the sum of N71.8 billion had to be transferred from the intervention programme, said:  “Similarly, the provision for meal subsidy for the Unity Colleges is inadequate for the number of students in the schools. Also, there was no provision for feeding of cadets at the Police Academy, Wudil, Kano. These situations are hampering the operations of the affected agencres. “The provision for Statutory Transfer to the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) was reduced to N2,000,000,000 in 2016 from N4,000,000,000 in 2015. Consequently, the agency is experiencing difficulty in paying salaries of its personnel as and when due. “Due to the devaluation of the Naira, the budgetary provisions for the foreign missions are no longer sufficient to cover all their costs. The provision for Presidential Initiative for the North East (N12,000,000,000) has a balance of less than N1.5bn, and there continue to be emerging challenges with the Internally Displaced Persons (lDPs) in the zone.” The letter reads in part:”In the course of implementing the 2016 Appropriation Act, several MDAs have presented issues pertaining to salary shortfalls, the settlement of part of which has led to the depletion of the Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA). This Vote, which had a provision of N33, 597,400,000, now has a balance of N2, 758,296,000. “The Committee on Salary Shortfalls, set up by the Honourable Minister of Finance, has come up with a figure of N41,875,983,020 as the amount required to settle salary shortfalls of non-lPPlS MDAs. Similarly, most of the lPPlS MDAs have already been notified by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) that they would soon be locked out of the IPPIS Platform as their Personnel Cost budgets would not cover salaries for the rest of the year. “The lPPlS Department in the OAGF has forwarded a figure of N20, 058,204,856 as the sum required to cover the shortfall in salaries of lPPlS MDAs. The Security-related lines in the Service Wide Vote, specifically Operations internal for the Armed Forces (N13billion) and Operation Lafiya Dole (N8billion) have all been totally released while the Nigerian Air Force needs about (N12,708,367,476) to cover the foreign exchange differentials in the procurement of its critical capabilities. “The Contingency Vote of N12billion has a balance of only N1,827,570,443. it is considered necessary to augment this vote in the light of frequently emerging contingencies. “Only N20,000,000,000 (already fully released) was provided in the 2016 budget for the Niger Delta Amnesty Progr mme. Consequently, the allowances to ex-militants have only been paid up to May 2016. This is creating a lot of restiveness and compounding the security challenge in the Niger Delta. “The Provision for NYSC in the 2016 budget is inadequate to cater for the number of corpers to be mobilized this year. In fact, an additional N8.5billion is required to cover the backlog of 129, 469 corps members who are currently due for call-up but would otherwise be left out till next year due to funding constraints. Similarly, the provision for meal subsidy for the Unity Colleges is inadequate for the number of students in the schools. “Also, there was no provision for feeding of cadets at the Police Academy, Wudil, Kano. These situations are hampering the operations of the affected agencies. The provision for Statutory Transfer to the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) was reduced to N2,000,000,000 in 2016 from N4,000,000,000 in 2015. Consequently, the agency is experiencing difficulty in paying salaries of its personnel as and when due. “Due to the devaluation of the Naira, the budgetary provisions for the foreign missions are no longer sufficient to cover all their costs “The provision for Presidential Initiative for the North East (N12, 000,000,000) has a balance of less than N1.5bn, and there continue to be emerging challenges with the Internally Displaced Persons (lDPs) in the zone”. The breakdown of the virement proposal shows that N71.8 billion is for public service wage adjustment, N35billion for Amnesty programme, N19.8billion for mobilization of remaining

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