Three ministers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet have separately justified the plan to borrow $22.7 billion, stressing that it was necessary for the government to meet the infrastructural needs of the people.
Minister of Finance, Finance, Zinab Ahmed; that of Works and Housing, Babatunfe Fashola, the Minister of State for Transport, Gbemisola Saraki, and Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, who made submissions before the House of Representatives Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management on Monday, all agreed to the borrowing plan, request for approval of which is before the National Assembly.
Making her presentation, the Finance Minister, Ahmed said, “We need to invest in roads, rails, and to be able to grow at a rate better than we are growing now. They are strictly for infrastructure development. So that we can address the deficit that we have. We know we must comply with some criteria.”
According to her, “Nigeria does not have a debt sustainability problem but revenue challenge. Every Kobo borrowed will be judiciously used”.
Also speaking, Fashola said that the government cannot ignore the demands for infrastructural sustainability.
“It is right to have this hearing because we cannot ignore the concerns of the members of the public, the debt profile of the country.
“As we cannot ignore the concerns about debts, so we cannot ignore the concerns and demands for the provision of life sustaining infrastructure. So, everybody wants a road, everybody wants a rail project, everybody wants a port and efficient airports. They want to ensure that our ports are efficient so that business can function more effectively, so that clearing of goods can happen more quickly and cheaply.
“And were in the midst of these fiscal challenges that she (the Minister Finance, Budget and National Planning) have identified, the revenue are not just enough to meet these challenges,” Fashola stated.
Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Hon. Dayyabu Safana, informed the ministers and heads of relevant agencies that the meeting was necessary, in order for the committee to understand the rationale behind President Buhari’s request for the loans.