· They are not regional, says Finance Ministry
In what appears a further marginalisation of the South East zone, the Federal Government has left out the region in projects which President Muhammadu Buhari plans to execute with the proposed $29.960 billion infrastructure loan.
A breakdown of how the loan would be spent on infrastructure between 2016 and 2018 shows that none of the projects contained in the government’s document is located in the South East geo-political zone.
President Buhari had on Tuesday asked the Senate to approve the loan from multilateral financial institutions to enable his administration execute critical infrastructure and other social intervention initiatives across the country.
The Finance Ministry said the $29.960 billion loan is designed to address infrastructure deficit in the country.
But in a statement released to journalists on Thursday on the projects to be funded by the loan, there was no single infrastructural project allocated to the South East – an area most acutely hit by poor infrastructure and an acute shortage of various social amenities.
According to the statement, issued by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Finance on Media, Mr. Festus Akanbi, infrastructural projects are allocated $18.3 billion.
The projects to be embarked upon are the Mambilla Hydro Electric Power Project ($4.8 billion), the Modernisation Coastal Railway Project (Calabar-Port Harcourt-Onne Deep Sea Port Segment) valued at $3.5 billion and the Abuja Mass Transit Rail Project (Phase 2) put at $1.6 billion.
Others are the Lagos-Kano Railway Modernisation Project (Lagos-Ibadan Segment Double Track) estimated at $1.3 billion and the Lagos-Kano Railway Modernisation Project (Kano-Kaduna Segment Double Track) valued at $1.1 billion.
The balance of $11 billion will be expended on Eurobond ($4.5 billion), Federal Government Budget Support ($3.5 billion), Social Support for Education and Health ($2.2 billion), Agriculture ($1.2 billion), and Economic Management and Statistics ($.2 billion).
According to the statement, the borrowing has a three-year plan covering proposed projects for 2016-2018 and is expected to be phased over the three year period.
The ministry said that the borrowings are highly concessional (non-commercial), with low interest rates and long tenors.
The Federal Government affirmed that the funding is being sought from multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and the China Exim Bank.
The planned Eurobond issuance in the international capital markets, the statement pointed out, is the only commercial source of funding.
But when The AUTHORITY contacted Akanbi on the apparent omission of the South East on the project allocation, he said that the loan has nothing to do with regional consideration. He said that the government would still reflect all the regions in the 2017 Budget.
Akanbi said: “I don’t have an answer to your question. This is just a Federal Government thing that was presented today. It’s not a regional thing. There are other projects like agriculture.
“These are strategic things just like intervention for three years’ programme. That does not stop the Federal Government from planning for all the regions next year and in the 2018 budget. It’s just for support. It’s not the main thing, just an ad-hoc initiative.
“The government is going to sit down and work on the 2017 budget and all the regions will be covered. It has nothing to do with regions. These are specific projects on ground”.