Friday, 26 April 2013

FG, states get NEC's approval to borrow $9bn

The National Economic Council on
Thursday approved the plan by the
federal and state governments to borrow
$9bn from some international
organisations.
The council, chaired by Vice-President
Namadi Sambo, has all the state governors
and ministers of National Planning,
Federal Capital Territory and Justice as
members.
Governors Peter Obi (Anambra); Liyel
Imoke (Cross River); and Umar Garba
(Taraba) as well as the Minister of National
Planning, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman; and
Minister of State for Power, Mrs. Zaynab
Kuchi, briefed journalists on the outcome
of the meeting.
Usman said the approval was granted
based on a presentation made by the
Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-
Iweala. He added that the nod had
earlier been given by the National
Assembly.
The minister said, "The Coordinating
Minister of the Economy briefed the NEC
on the current facilities made available by
different international funding
organisations, including the Islamic
Development Bank, International
Development Association, African
Development Bank, French Development
Agency as well as Chinese and Indian Exim
Banks totalling about $9bn for
development of projects.
"The facilities which have up to 10 years
moratorium and 40 years repayment
periods are available to both the federal
and state governments to fund high
impact projects towards improving
infrastructure, agriculture and
employment generation.
"The council urged the states to
endeavour to meet the requirements for
the loans and to ensure that the facilities
are meant to fund meaningful projects in
their states."
On power, Imoke said the council
approved the sourcing and immediate
release of $3.37bn bridge funding for the
sector pending the realisation of proceeds
from generation asset sale.
He said the decision was taken as a means
of solving the envisaged significant
transmission constraint by the end of the
year and bridging the gap for counterpart
funding in hydro plants.
The governor said it was resolved that
$1.65bn should be disbursed to fund
critical transmission infrastructure while
$1.72bn should be used to fund hydro
generation.
He added that it was recommended that
the proceeds from sale of generation
assets be utilised for reinvestment in
transmission and hydro projects.
"The committee set up by the council
highlighted the over $4bn NIPP investment
already made in generation which has
produced additional 4,774MW generation
capacity by NDPHC and would have raised
the overall generation capacity in Nigeria
to 9,582 MW in December 2013 in line with
the nation's updated generation capacity
target of 20,000 by 2020.
"It further noted that investing in the
needed transmission infrastructure would
ensure, among other benefits, the needed
return on investment, the maximisation
of proceeds from the sale of the
generation assets, improved GDP growth
rate as well as ensure effective
distribution of generated power to the
ultimate consumers," he said.
Imoke added that the council also
recommended that 11 small dams spread
across the country should be
accommodated in the funding plan
because of their potential for boosting
power, water supply and agriculture in the
country.
Garba said the council also approved the
desire of states to buy up the 78,000
laptops belonging to the Independent
National Electoral Commission which were
used for the last voter registration.
He said governors who wanted the
laptops took the decision after a
presentation by INEC Chairman, Prof.
Attahiru Jega.
Usman added that a committee of the
council would negotiate the payment
terms with the commission while state
governments would subscribe and make
payments.
On education, Obi said a technical
committee on the recommendations of the
NEEDS Assessment of Nigerian universities
briefed the council in line with its directive
last month for it(council) to incorporate
additional contributions by members.
Based on the report, he said NEC
recommended the expansion of access to
tertiary education in Nigeria by
designating a federal university per
geopolitical zone to be upgraded towards
expanding its absorptive capacity to
between 150,000 and 200,000 students in
the medium term.
He added that the council wanted the
establishment of a Federal Ministry of
Higher Education and Manpower
Development in order to ensure that
students' enrolment was reconciled with
the national manpower development
priorities of the nation.
Obi said, " On funding, the committee
agreed with CNANU that funding was a big
issue in tertiary education and
recommended that both the Federal and
State Governments should prioritise
funding by raising budgetary allocation
to schools and guaranteeing that funds
for education are disbursed as
appropriated to ensure that the necessary
facilities are provided.
"On governing councils, it recommended
the strengthening of the composition and
character, especially the external members,
of the Governing Councils of the
Universities by populating the board with
members who have a direct stake in
academics to ensure better management
of the universities.
"On staffing, the committee noted that the
Nigerian university system is grossly
understaffed and recommended the
introduction of attractive incentives
towards promoting postgraduate
education and upgrading the academic
qualifications of all lecturers to PhD level
within a given period.
"Other recommendations made by the
committee include government's
investment in hostel accommodation,
establishment of specialised laboratories,
establishment of a robust federal and state
scholarship scheme and the lifting of the
moratorium on the creation of more than
one university by state governments.
"The council gave its backing to the prayer
for the immediate implementation of the
recommendations. It also supported the
recommendations for the reform of both
the primary and secondary levels of
education to ensure a complete overhaul
of the education system in the country."

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