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China Loans: FG Signed Empty Loan Repayment Documents – Reps

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House of Representatives has said that Federal Government officials signed empty repayment loan documents for the development of the rail sector even before the terms of the loans were negotiated.

The House also stated that it discovered that the Ministry of Transportation signed a commercial contract worth $33 billion dollars without any clear cut financial arrangement, while most of the contracts agreement did not have local content clauses.

Chairman, House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai disclosed this during the resumption of investigative hearing on the review of bilateral loan agreements and commercial contracts agreements by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Monday, August 17.

He stated that some of the loans collected by the government were signed even before the terms were negotiated.

However, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said there is no such contract existing in the Ministry as the only contract is the $1.6 billion loan for the Lagos/Ibadan rail project signed by President Buhari and the about $800 million dollars loan signed by former President, Goodluck Jonathan.

He challenged the Committee to furnish his Ministry with details of the contract to enable them make necessary response.

Hon. Ossai frowned at the misconceptions and misgivings on the ongoing legislative scrutiny of various agreements.

He alleged that public officials’ response for the facility are only desperate to obtain the loan without proper scrutiny of the agreements.

The Honorable said;

We have also noted comments on the facts that National Assembly approved these loans, so why turn around to probe it now? Executive scrutiny and oversight by the legislature on government policies, programmes and projects can be done at the beginning, during implementation and at the end of implementation.

Hon. Ossai expressed;

From our experience, the MDAs sign these commercial agreements in billions of dollars, then go the President and Federal Executive Council for approval to execute including securing loan facilities through Ministry of Finance and Debt Management Office (DMO).

They then proceed to negotiate the terms of these loans before coming back to Mr. President who then writes the National Assembly asking for approval for billions of dollars to do projects without attaching the negotiated loan and commercial contracts agreements details.

He explained;

This approach is the reason we have government representatives signing empty pages of loan agreements repayment schedule and other key documents required for the loan agreements to become effective.

He said further;

We have noticed from documents available to us that commercial contracts process signed by Federal Ministry of Transport alone within this is over $33 billion without any clear cut financing arrangements.

Most of these commercial contracts agreements didn’t also have local content clauses and we’re witnessed by none properly designated and authorised officials.

Hon. Ossai added;

There are observable issues which we are strongly poised to ask questions on and hope to get honest answers will finer tune the current process, plan for possible negotiation of some these governments to serve Nigerians better.

He expressed that the House is not investing only external borrowings by Nigeria from China, noting that Nigeria now has over 500 contractual and bilateral agreements with various countries.

According to him, some clauses in the agreements are bogus and innocuous.

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