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Senate Approves Buhari’s $5.5bn Foreign Loans Request

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The Nigerian Senate at its plenary on Tuesday granted President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to obtain foreign loans to the tune of $5.5 billion.

The Senate gave its approval after considering the report of its committee on local and foreign debts headed by Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna state.

President Buhari had in October written to the Senate for approval to borrow $2.5 billion to finance the 2017 budget and another $3bn to refinance domestic debts.

The presidency had at the time stated that the $2.5bn once obtained would be directed towards infrastructure projects equitably spread across the country, which would help stimulate the economy.

Refinancing refers to the process of eliminating an existing debt with payments from another loan obtained under more favourable terms. With the $3bn to be used for refinancing domestic debts, local lenders owed by the federal government may now expect to be paid.

At the Senate plenary on Tuesday, Senator Yusuf A Yusuf cautioned the lawmakers about adding to the country’s debt burden. He was however countered by Senator Gbenga Ashafa who argued that the loans were necessary to facilitate development across the country.

Ashafa, elected to represent the Lagos East senatorial district on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said the federal government led by the APC was working to deliver the dividends of democracy to all Nigerians across the 6 geo-political zones of the country. He added that the loans would also help transform Nigeria into a major centre for construction.

Senate leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan while supporting Ashafa’s position also claimed that the federal government had complied with all laws governing external borrowing. He added that he was confident that the infrastructure projects to be executed with the sums borrowed would have a major impact on the economy.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the session stated that the Senate would continue to work with the executive arm of government to ensure that the purpose of the 2017 budget is achieved.

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