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World Bank delays approval for Nigeria’s $1.5bn loan over Naira reform

The World Bank is delaying approval of Nigeria’s request for a $1.5 billion loan due to concerns over desired reforms, Reuters reports.

Unidentified sources told Reuters that the main concern being expressed by the World Bank was Naira reform.

Both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, IMF, have, in the past, advised Nigeria to float its currency and allow market forces to determine the value of the naira.

According to the report, the World Bank had aimed to bring the loan request to its board for approval this August but the approval will now be delayed till October.

“They are not convinced about the reforms,” Reuters quoted a source close to the government to have said.

Although the World Bank has not outlined any demands, fuel subsidies and electricity tariffs were also said to be a part of the discussions.

The CBN has devalued the naira twice in 2020 and the Federal Executive Council in July, approved the removal of petrol subsidy.

The finance ministry was reported to have directed queries to the World Bank and while the Bretton Wood institution said discussions had reached an advanced stage, it confirmed that the loan request had not been presented to its board.

“Of particular importance are the steps the government is taking to marshal the needed fiscal resources for a pro-poor response to the crisis and undertake the reforms that will help ensure a robust recovery,” Reuters quoted a statement by the World Bank to have read.

The World Bank has already projected that Nigeria is heading for its worst recession in 40 years, which the Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, reiterated last week.

To meet budgetary obligations, the Nigerian government requested for loans worth $6.9 billion from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank.

The IMF approved a $3.4 billion loan for Nigeria in April.

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Nigeria Is Already Paying China Loans – Amaechi

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, says Nigeria has already begun repayment of China loans.

The minister made this known when he appeared on a live television programme (Democracy Today) aired on AIT on Saturday.

According to Amaechi, out of the $500m loan the federal government took to build the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, $96m has been paid, adding that Nigeria has capability to pay all the China loans.

“We are paying the loans.

“In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that the $500million loan, we have paid $96m already.

“Nigeria is already paying and the $500m was not taking by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there,” he said.

“Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge, just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down.

“That is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become President or Minister,” he said.

The House of Representatives, during a probe of Chinese loans to Nigeria, had raised the alarm that there are agreements which ceded Nigeria’s sovereign right on the assets financed by the loans to China if there was payment default.

This discovery had sparked reactions among many Nigerians.

Reacting, Amaechi said rhe conditions that Nigeria signed on the loans was approved by the National Assembly, hence the probe was unnecessary.

He stated also that the National assembly was aware and approved the loan, and he would have published the clauses generating the dusts, of not for the issue of confidentiality in government.

“The National Assembly are aware of all these loans.

“We can’t take loan without the National Assembly.

“So, ask why they are investigating?

“The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back which is the immunity clause.

“If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets,” he noted.

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Nigeria will pay back loan from China in 20 years – Amaechi

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has disclosed that the loan the Nigerian government got from China for the rail projects across the country will be paid back within 20 years. 

In a statement released on Saturday August 1, the former Governor of Rivers state disclosed that China is the only country giving out loans with a low interest rate of 2.8 per cent. 

 

The statement read; 

“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so,  I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.

“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.

“Whether is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.

“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.

“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.

“We are paying the loans. In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that of the 500million dollars loan, we have paid 96 million dollars already, Nigeria is already paying.

“And the 500 million dollars was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there.

“Nigeria has the capacity to pay back for the period of 20 years at 2.8 per cent, which country will give you that loan? Secondly, these loans are not given to us, they are paid directly to the contractors.

“Once they sign that the job has been done, they pay the contractors and that has never happened before and this project are in place. Are they trying to rubbish the fact that there is a railway from Abuja-Kaduna?

“There is no loan in Nigeria, either internal or external that is not approved by the National Assembly, none. Chinese government will not even give you a loan without an approval by the National Assembly because if they give you a loan without the approval from NASS that is no loan.”

Amaechi further stated that the loan is needed to boost infrastructural development across the country and only assets constructed with such loans will be taken back in case there is a default in repayment. 

He said; 

“What you do is you give a sovereign guarantee and that guarantee is the immunity clause they are talking about.

“When we say, I give you a sovereign guarantee and we get immunity clause, the immunity clause is that, if tomorrow I am not able to pay and you come to collect the items we have agreed upon, that these are the items that am putting down as guarantee, I can waive my immunity and say no you can’t touch it am sovereign country.

“So, they are saying, if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will make us recover our funds. So, is China our father that will give us money for free?

“It is a standard clause in every agreement whether is America we signed it with, whether is Britain, any country would want to know that they can recover their money.

“Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge.

“Just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down, that is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become President or Minister.

“And if the assets you put down become depreciated then you negotiate which assets they can go after. Chinese will never take over what was not constructed with the loan.

“The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back, which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.”

Commenting on the Zambian experience, Amaechi reiterated that the Chinese government will never take over infrastructure that was not constructed from the money taken. He also disclosed that the federal ministry of finance has started paying back some of the loans. 

He added; 

“They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay. 1.6 billion dollars was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for 5.3 billion dollars to fix from Ibadan to Kano.

“3.2 billion dollars to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about 11.1billion dollars, if those things were done when we had money, the infrastructure will be here today? The answer is no.”