President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to seek a fresh $5.513 billion external loan to finance the revised 2020 budget.
Senate President, Dr Ahmed Lawan, who read the President’s letter to the lawmakers during plenary on Thursday explained that the loan will be used to finance the deficit in the 2020 budget and support critical projects from the State and Federal Government.
However, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised alarm that with the volume of foreign loans being accumulated by President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria and Nigerians have been placed on the international auction market.
The party said President Buhari’s moves to take a fresh $5.513 billion (N2.1 trillion) loan in addition to an earlier $22.79 billion (N8.5trillion), the size of 2020 budget, without operable repayment plans will totally compromise the fiscal integrity of our nation and open her up for economic annexation by foreign creditors. This is in addition to N850 billion from the capital market.
President Buhari, in his letter to the Senate, said that the Federal Government is also planning to raise money externally and internally.
Of the external loan of $5.513 billion, $3.4 billion will come from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), $1.5 from the World Bank, $500m from (AfDB) and $113m from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
The President further noted that the assumptions in the 2020 budget are no longer attainable given the slump in oil prices and lower demand for crude oil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also presented a revised 2020 Appropriation Bill and 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) to the Senate, asking the upper legislative chamber for an expedited passages because of the urgency of the situation.
However, PDP, in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said “it is more alarming that the Buhari government, in this fiscal year, cannot muster the capacity to harness the huge resources available in our country to generate even half of the sum of its own budget, but has been going cap in hands to shop for foreign loans.
“The PDP expressed fears that with this situation, the APC administration is practically driving our nation to the brinks while exposing Nigerians to the risk of modern day slavery by mortgaging our future to economic appropriation by foreign interests. Already the situation has created apprehensions, anxiety and trepidation among the citizens, particularly the youths, who are now scared about their future and the survival of our nation under the APC.
“It is even more distressing that this administration cannot account for the loans it has taken so far. In spite of the deluge of loans, the lives of the ordinary Nigerians, on whose behalf they claim to be amassing these debts, have become worse than the APC and Buhari met them in 2015. Painfully, even the savings made by previous administrations have been opened up for pillaging by APC leaders and the cabal in the Buhari Presidency
“The PDP calls on Nigerians to look beyond our primordial differences and unite in speaking against this accumulation of debts. It is no longer about political party affiliations, creed, ethnicity, class or age. We all must unite in one voice to save our nation from an imminent collapse. Our party holds that rather than mortgaging our nation to foreign interests, President Buhari should immediately cut the size of his government, slash its over bloated budget, clip its luxuries, curb unbridled corruption in his administration and make haste to recover the N14 trillion that was stolen by APC leaders under his watch.
“If the N14 trillion stashed away by APC leaders and the cabal is recovered, our nation will not be in need of these humongous foreign loans. The PDP also urges the National Assembly to stand on the side of the people and save the nation by immediately using its legislative instrument to check this unbridled appetite for foreign loans.