Reps, minister differ on $33bn rail project loan

• Query DMO over non-inclusion of contract agreements on over $8bn loan repayment plan

Posted  276 Views updated 5 months ago

Amaechi

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Both the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday, differed on the contract the amount for the rail project and the loan is taken by the Federal Government.

 

NEWS FLAKES NG reports that at the investigative hearing of the House of Representatives on Monday, the committee said it had uncovered over $33 billion commercial contracts signed by successive governments through the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

 

Chairman of the committee, Honourable Ossai Nicholas Ossai, speaking at the resumed investigative hearing on the review of bilateral loan agreements and commercial contracts agreements by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), listed some of the projects queried by the committee as $11.1 billion Nigerian railway project signed on July 1, 2016; $340 million (the equivalent of N40 billion) for the supply of information satellite (NigComSat) launched in 2008; the unstated the amount for the supply of communications satellite 1-R; contract for the supply for clearing and installation, testing and commissioning of rural telephone project phase 1 between Federal Ministry of Communication and Huawei.

 

Ossai also expressed concern over non-inclusion of contract agreements relating to the repayment of $8 billion accumulated debt portfolio based on principal amount and interest payable from now till at least in 19 years, based on the maturity of the loan, as well as $326 million for the Nigeria parboiled rice processing project of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

 

The committee chairman, who said Nigeria has over 500 bilateral commercial contracts agreements and investments treaties with different countries and institutions, said: “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.”

 

Disagreeing with the position of the committee, Amaechi, said: “If you say Ministry of Transport have a contract of $33 billion, we want to see it, because as the minister, the only contract awarded so far is $1.6 billion contract for Lagos- Ibadan rail which is under threat.

 

“The implication of having a contract of $33 billion is that I will have a large number of workers. There’s no $33 billion contract in the Ministry of Transport. “What we have is $1.6 billion contract awarded under President Muhammadu Buhari and $800 million contract awarded by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

 

“By the time we came, the contract awarded by Jonathan signed by [Olusegun] Aganga had been completed 80 per cent, so we didn’t have to do the meeting of local content or no local content. “The only one that had to deal with the issue of local content is the $1.6 billion contract that was awarded for Lagos to Ibadan for which the Chinese government is providing $1.2 billion and we’re providing the remaining $400 million.”

 

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He promised to provide relevant documents on sublet contracts on the rail project contract implemented by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration today. Amaechi insisted that because of the investigative hearing, the country may lose the contract for Lagos – Calabar rail project with the Chinese government.

 

In her response to questions on the status of all the loans obtained so far, the director-general, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, said: “What we have at the DMO is the loan agreement. That is what we work on. We submitted them earlier the first time you asked for the loan agreement.”

 

 

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He promised to provide relevant documents on sublet contracts on the rail project contract implemented by the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration today. Amaechi insisted that because of the investigative hearing, the country may lose the contract for Lagos – Calabar rail project with the Chinese government.

 

In her response to questions on the status of all the loans obtained so far, the director-general, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, said: “What we have at the DMO is the loan agreement. That is what we work on. We submitted them earlier the first time you asked for the loan agreement.”

 

She added that the Federal Ministry of Finance is responsible for the disbursement in line with the extant process for the multilateral and bilateral loans, adding that “we only have what’s in the loan agreement.”

 

 

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