The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Friday said “debt is a necessary burden for the country in bridging the infrastructure deficits.”
Lawan, who stated this during a question and answer session at a media briefing to mark two years anniversary of the 9th Senate, also said the 9th National Assembly “is not a rubber stamp of the executive arm of the government.”
“For a country like Nigeria with serious infrastructure deficits, internal and external borrowings are the only option since the option of a heavy taxation cannot be explored.
“The other alternative is not to do anything by way of not putting in place the required infrastructure like roads, rail lines, bridges, etc, which is worse than taking loans. The over thirty something trillion Naira debt profile we are having is a necessary burden for us to carry in fixing our infrastructure.
“Besides, the loans are not with burdensome constraints as being reported. Some are with no interest attached aside from the considerable years of moratorium given before re-payments,” he said.
He added: “Many Nigerians are talking about the country’s debt profile. Before us in the Senate are two requests from the executive arm of government for loans that we have already approved to fund the 2021 budget. One is to construct critical infrastructure across the country.
“The second one is for investment in agriculture and other sectors of the economy including mining. The amount also includes loans guaranteed by the federal government for some states.
“The N32.9 trillion is not only for the federal government. Part of it belongs to the states. It is just that the federal government gives the guarantee.”
He said further that before the loans were approved, the committee on foreign and domestic debts went to see the areas covered in the loans.
“We have also started oversight functions to ensure judicious utilisation of the loans in the overall interest of Nigerians.”