Senate rejects FG’s $ 700 million loan request for water projects

The Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s $ 700 million loan request for sustainable urban and rural water, sanitation and hygiene (SURWASH).

The request was made to the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.

During the ministry’s budget advocacy session on Wednesday, the committee mandated the ministry’s delegation, led by Permanent Secretary Esther Walson-Jack, to provide it with an update on the loans collected so far for the projects of ministry water.

The rejection comes just 24 hours after the health ministry requested approval of $ 200 million for the purchase of mosquito nets and malaria medicine.

During the session, committee chair Clifford Ordia and a few other members noted that three different loans have been approved for various water-related projects.

Mr. Ordia noted that $ 450 million had been approved for the Ministry of Water project funded by the African Development Bank and another loan of $ 6 million under the Integrated Development Program also funded by the African Development Bank and the Gurara Water Project.

“You have to tell us what you are doing with $ 700 million for water projects,” he said.

Other panel members, including Obinna Ogba, Sani Musa, Bima Enagi and Ibrahim Oloriegbe, wanted the loan application denied because some loans had been collected for water projects in the past and project results are not not yet known.

“What is the criterion for selecting beneficiary states? The details you provide are not enough. What projects do you want to do with $ 640 million and how much water are you going to do?

“You give each state $ 3 million to build staff capacity, do we need a loan to do that? You mean that not all states can do it on their own? Asked Mr. Oloriebge.

The lawmaker asked for the selection criteria of recipient states, adding that the details provided by the permanent secretary of the ministry are not sufficient to justify the loan.

Ms Walson-Jack, who was unable to provide an update on previous loans approved for water projects, told the panel that SURWASH will last for five years.

She said that $ 640 million of the proposed loan will be used for the project, while the remaining $ 60 million will be used for capacity building.

“The proposal was negotiated with the World Bank in April 2021 and was approved by the Federal Executive Council on August 11, 2021.

“The states that would benefit from the $ 700 million loan from the World Bank are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina and Plateau, with matching funding of $ 175 million.

“The program will provide improved sanitation and water hygiene services to 2,000 schools and health facilities and help 500 communities end open defecation-free status,” she explained. .

The committee therefore resolved to invite the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman, to come before her for an explanation of the loan application and the status of loans collected to date.

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