Abuja – The Federal Government has resolved to approach the Chinese government to source for more loans up to the tune of $774 million to complete the East West Road.
The fresh loan is coming despite the possibility of increasing the debt profile of the country.
Government may have also settled for the loan facility owing to its indebtedness to contractors handling the road project.
The road construction has been on for over eleven years with an outstanding debt profile of N14 billion required to settle some of the contractors.
Pastor Usani Usani, Minister of State for Niger Delta, gave this clue on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
“As you know, no government agency is sufficiently funded, that becomes a major challenge. The second issue is to address the concern about commitment or lack of it by government, no administration to the best of my knowledge within a democratic setting has been more committed than this present government.
“A demonstration of this is the action of this administration to go ahead and seek extra budgetary special loan from China to the tune of $500 million. Now we are making a fresh application to increase that to $774 million to be able to tackle an aspect of that road and this came under five of the special projects nominated by the president to see that work doesn’t stop and if you look at our budget as lean as it is about 50 percent goes on the allocation to the East West Road.
“Beyond that for this year the budget ministry proposed N8 billion counterpart funding for the credit facility we are getting from China and so we are committed but it’s just impossible to say we will be able to allocate enough funds because the competing demands do not allow satisfaction in every sector of the economy, so it’s a problem for us”, the minister said.
Niger Delta Ministry Spent N423bn From 2009-2015
Meanwhile, a technical audit report on the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs showing that it spent N423 billion from 2009 when it was created to 2015.
Usani added that the meeting also resolved to make those who misapplied funds face the consequences.
“Today we received approval of the project technical audit report which was carried out by the ministry in investigating all contracts awarded and projects and programmes carried out in the ministry since the inception of the ministry from 2009 to 2015.
“The revealing content of the report shows that over N423 billion had been expended in the region by the ministry alone, not other intervening agencies, from 2009 to 2015.
“From this amount project execution rate has been at 12 percent with an average completion rate of a project standing at five years and the impact rate is eight percent.”
Usani said the ministry had sought approval from council to have the recommendations of the report conveyed to the legitimate agencies charged with the responsibilities of recovering government assets.
He said it was for assets that were misappropriated, misused or found to be idling in some quarters.
“With this it means all those who have accessed government’s resources for one purpose or another must be compelled to make adequate use of same.
“Otherwise they will face the recommendations that go with such violations and that is our position concerning that report and we have got council approval for that,” he said.
According to the minister, the report indicated that about 60 percent of the N700 billion appropriated for contracts in the region had been paid out to the contractors which recorded low execution of the jobs.
“To find that N423 billion had been expended in the region with the type of results we see shows that there is something tangibly and obviously wrong with how procurement had been carried out in the ministry.”
The minister added that the number of projects awarded during the period was 427 but there was no uniform action by contractors.
He said the action to be taken would vary according to measure of liabilities.
He said some would be asked to return to site while others would be made to refund money for their display of criminal intent of collecting money without appearing at site at all.
Although wife of the president, Aisha Buhari left for London on Tuesday to see her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said there was no cause for alarm over the president’s state of health.
He said the president was in competent hands and therefore Nigerians should not be troubled.
Mohammed also commented on the budget assent delay, saying the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government were still going through the budget in conjunction with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to reconcile grey areas.
He gave no clue when the budget will be assented to.
“Mr. President is in very competent hands and there is no cause for alarm.
“On the issue of budget, its being reconciled and we are all coordinating with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning,” he stated.
No Date Yet For Assent To 2017 Budget- Presidency
Meanwhile, the presidency on Wednesday said no date has been set for assent to the 2017 budget as consultations were still ongoing.
Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), stated this in a statement in Abuja.
“Further to several enquiries regarding action on the 2017 Appropriation Bill by the executive, be please informed that assent to same is not yet scheduled as consultations and engagements are ongoing. Be please so informed”, he said.
The National Assembly had on May 11, 2017 approved N7.441 trillion for the 2017 fiscal year.