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Senate approves FG’s $22.7bn loan request

The Senate on Thursday approved the $22.7bn external borrowing plan of the federal government after an emergency closed door session. The debate on the loan…

The Senate on Thursday approved the $22.7bn external borrowing plan of the federal government after an emergency closed door session.

The debate on the loan stalemated on the floor of the Senate when some opposition lawmakers demanded the details of the projects to be funded with the money.

This forced the Red Chamber into a closed door session.

The controversy started when the Chairman of the Local and Foreign Loans Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia submitted the report to the plenary without the details of the projects to be funded with the loan.

The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, had sought details of the projects to be implemented and that the lawmakers should critically scrutinise the panel’s recommendations before passing the report.

He said the Senate needed to look at each items of the report and then determine which of the projects would help in growing the country’s economy.

“Once we determine that, we can now approve it because subsequently, it will help us,” he said.

Abaribe’s suggestion was turned down by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan who said the report cannot be scrutinised clause by clause because it is not a bill.

Lawan said, “What is here is what is to finance our capital budget and therefore it is important that we are conscious of that fact that we need to have the capital aspects of the budget funded.

“If we notice any lopsidedness, I think it may not just be for this Senate to just impede the progress but it is important that it takes note of areas that are left out and then, in the next phase, we consider them.”

He said Abaribe could decide to vote against all the recommendations or make amend. “What we want is to vote consciously on the projects and until it is approved, there won’t be implementation of the capital budget.”

After about 20-minute executive session, the upper legislative chamber approved the loan request.

Lawan assured that the Senate would follow the projects’ implementation closely.

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