Nigeria doesn’t need Chinese loans if MDAs remit revenues – Reps

…lawmakers to grill Attorney-General, Finance Minister Tuesday

The House of Representatives has decried the non-remittance and under-remittances of Internally Generated Revenue by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government, directing the Budget Office of the Federation to deduct the balance of such revenues from the allocation of defaulting MDAs.

The House issued the directive in Abuja on Wednesday at an interactive session organised by the Joint Committee on Finance; Appropriation; National Planning and Economic Development; and Aids, Loans and Debt Management on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

According to the House, Nigeria does not need to seek external borrowings especially from China if the MDAs properly remit their internally generated revenues.

Already, Nigerians are becoming agitated by the rising debt profile of the country, with the National Assembly raising concerns over external loan agreements between Nigeria, global bodies and countries, especially China.

Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, James Faleke, who is also the chairman of the joint committee, said the Federal Government had lost over N7bn to under-remittance by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control.

He said, “In the past few weeks, we have been talking about Chinese loans when the money is there in the system. We have the money in Nigeria but we are not doing the needful.

“We are not remitting what we are supposed to remit. The private sector will not remit the taxes and you, government agencies, being paid salaries, will not remit.

“Where will the government get money to fund the capital projects when we have deficit budget every year. I don’t think it is fair on the system. An agency came here and said they will generate N100m but will spend N130m; how?”

The committee had discovered that NAFDAC had failed to remit revenue of about N10bn to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, as the agency claimed to have spent the money on inspection of factories belonging to its clients, who wanted to either establish a factory or want to import products.

The Director, Administration and Human Resources, NAFDAC, Joseph Aina, who represented the Director-General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said the agency obtained the permission of the Budget Office of the Federation to spend the money generated through its User Fee platform.

Faleke, however, said, “The fact that you have a shortfall in releases, does not empower you to spend your IGR. Tell Madam (Adeyeye) that we will not take it.

“She is there to reform the system and we trust that she will do that. But you cannot spend the IGR the way you like. If you do that, the accounting officer can be prosecuted and we as National Assembly will see to that.”

Meanwhile, the committee also scrutinised the revenue performance of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The Group General Manager, Corporate Planning and Strategy of NNPC, Meyiwa Eyesan, said, “While the NNPC remitted N1.249tn in 2018 and N1.146tn in 2019, the figures were net of cost recovery.

“For 2021, there is a projected revenue of N3.54tn; 2022, N4.385tn; and for 2023, N5.341tn and we are projecting a flat crude oil price for the period. I think that is understandable given the precarious situation that we find ourselves in 2020.”

The House of Representatives Committee on Treaties. Agreements and Protocol is to grill the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF),  Abubakar Malami,  next Tuesday,  over issues relating to loan agreements signed between Nigeria and others.

The committee,  which is investigating $400 million loan secured by the government from China,  had raised concerns over some clauses which allegedly affects the sovereignty of the country,  if the government defaults in repaying the loans.

The panel had adjourned proceeding for one week on Tuesday,  saying  the AGF and Minister of Finance,  Zaniab Ahmed,  must be present  before it continued with its investigative hearing.

Malami and Ahmed would  be responding to queries on the review and implementation programme of all existing bilateral loan agreements between Nigeria and Chinese Export-Import Bank, and other loans sourced from China to finance the Lagos-Ibadan rail line and other projects.

The letters summoning the two ministers, which was dated August 18, and signed by the chairman of the committee,  Ossai Nicholas Ossai requested them to ensure they are present at the committee hearing next Tuesday.

Malami ‘s letter with  reference no: NASS/9HR/CT.102/04 requested him to furnish the committee “official documents of the Power of attorney for signing the loans as prescribed in appendix 3 of the loan agreements, certified  official copies of the legal opinion given on all facilities as prescribed in appendix 6 of the loans agreements.”

Besides,  the AGF is expected  to provide  official documents of the power of attorney for the appointment of the borrowers process agent on all loan agreements as prescribed in appendix 7 as well as official confirmation letter by the appointed borrowers’ process agents pres ribed in appendix 8 of the loan agreements.

While Ahmed is to provide “All certified official documents of conditions precedent for each drawdown after the first drawdown as required in appendix 2 of the loan agreements.”

“Official documents of the power of attorney for signing the loans  as prescribed in appendix 3 of the loan agreements.

“Official documents of power of Attorney for drawdowns as prescribed in appendix 4 of the loan agreements.

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