Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has described as worrisome, the rate at which the regime of the President, has been borrowing foreign loans to fund budget deficits.
He also faulted the speed with which the federal parliament approves such loans whenever the requests were sent by the President. Ndume at a news conference on Thursday, expressed dismay at the speed with which the nation’s Parliament has been approving the loans.
He said, “Honestly, I’m not an expert in debt analysis. You have the debt management office there. “However, the rate of our borrowing is increasing and is worrisome. But it is not the borrowing that is the problem as I always say, it is what you do with what you borrow.
“It is not wrong, for example, to borrow money from the bank with some reasonable interest to buy a car, especially when you have a family – wife and children to take to school, and you plan to repay gradually with your salary. It is fine, because you cannot afford the money to buy the car on your own.
“Borrowing in that situation, becomes a necessity. But, when you borrow and you cannot buy fuel, then you keep borrowing to buy fuel, and you give the car as collateral to collect fuel… I don’t support that “It is not the borrowing. And this request for loans that the President sent to the National Assembly is part of the approved external borrowing plan but as I said… I am just very careful.”
“You guys should look at what the borrowing is for in the first place. Is it necessary? Are the terms good? Borrowing is not a crime except when the rate of debt servicing increases. I understand it’s getting to 80, 90 per cent.. You have to be cautious. You have to look at alternatives.
“There are certain borrowings that are just absolutely necessary, there are some that are not necessary. There are some that can be delayed. There are some that the terms can be negotiated or renegotiated.”
Ndume however stressed the need to do a critical analysis to see whether it was necessary to take loans in the first instance. He said, “Let us look at the implications and what the money is meant for.
“For example, we have infrastructural deficit in this country and what we hear when people come to Abuja or when allocations are made, you can’t tell what is done with it. “Another thing I’m worried about is the way the Senate is handling it. The Senate, by definition, is House of deliberation.
“When things like this (loan request) comes, you don’t just say, because you want to be good, you approve it. No.
“You’re supposed to look at it critically. Cross the ‘Ts’, dot the ‘Is’, ask questions, carry the people you are representing along, ask if they agree. Not that we just sit down and just approve it.
“We thought it might be good but the way we do it make the people we represent look at us suspiciously. “There are situations where the time is short and we need to act fast, then we’ll have to carry the people along. I feel pain when they say “you people again.”
“This is the last one, I won’t do it again. You call us rubber stamp and all that but if there are certain things they can wait, that we need to analyse and not rush.
“We rushed to approve certain borrowings. Up till now, we didn’t get the money. So why did we rush? These are the questions that comes to my head most of the time.”