$30bn loan rejection won’t affect 2017 budget – Presidency

The Presidency on Wednesday said the rejection of the proposed $29.96bn external borrowing plan of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration by the Senate would not affect the implementation of the 2017 budget.

The Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said this while addressing journalists in Abuja.

Buhari’s request for legislative approval for the Federal Government’s external borrowing plan for the execution of projects from 2016 to 2018 had suffered outright rejection at the Senate on November 1, 2016.

The President had written to both chambers of the National Assembly, asking the legislature to approve the borrowing plan for the execution of key programmes and infrastructural projects across the country.

Enang, however, said the 2017 budget would be successfully implemented without the loan.

He said, “On the request by Mr. President for approval to take a loan, remember that this $30bn request was not what was to be spent in 2016, 2017 or 2018; it was a projection for three years. Therefore, the Senate has remitted (transmitted) it back to the Mr. President, requesting further details.

“It is still pending in the House of Representatives. Now, the legislative process is still pending. I am sure you can observe in recent times the level of consultation between the arms of government and the leadership level of the Senate as well as at the level of the sub-committees; and between the ministers and the committees. These are all intended to address and resolve any question, which could be thorny in any of the requests made by the executive.”

He added, “The President and the executive governors cannot proceed to take loans, because loans will become the responsibility of the entire nation to pay. And don’t also forget that the request by Mr. President was not only for the Federal Government to spend. Even if a state government wants to take a loan, it has to be approved by the National Assembly.

“So, the request by the various state governments to take loans for various projects was also contained therein. It is still undergoing consideration and consultation at the apex and sub levels.”

Enang also said the President had assented to over 30 bills in one and a half years of his administration.

“Mr. President has assented to a little over 30 bills within one year and six months of the inauguration of this present National Assembly, and this surpasses every record that has been set by the legislature since the advent of democracy,” he said.

Enang also said the 2017 budget process would be smoother than those of the previous years, “because there was enough consultation.

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