- House of Reps committed has indicted the federal government over Chinese loans
- The House said it uncovered $33 billion contracts without clear cut terms
- Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transportation, however, said that there was no such contract in his ministry
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The House of Representatives on Monday, August 17, alleged that the federal government officials signed empty repayment loan documents for the development of the Nigerian rail sector even before the terms of the loans were negotiated.
The Nation reports that the green chamber also said that it discovered that the ministry of transportation signed a commercial contract worth $33 billion dollars without any clear cut financial arrangement while most of the contracts agreement did not have local content clauses
Legit.ng gathered that the chairman, House committee on treaties, protocols and agreements, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, disclosed this during the resumed investigative hearing on the review of bilateral loan agreements and commercial contracts agreements by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He also said that some of the loans collected by the government were signed even before the terms were negotiated.
Reacting to the claim by the House, the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said there was no such contract existing in the ministry as the only contract was the $1.6 billion loan for the Lagos/Ibadan rail project signed by the Buhari government and the about $800 million dollars loan signed by the Jonathan government.
He challenged the committee to furnish his ministry with details of the contract to enable them to make necessary responses.
Ossai, who frowned at the misconceptions and misgivings on the ongoing legislative scrutiny of various agreements, alleged that public officials’ response for the facility are only desperate to obtain the loan without proper scrutiny of the agreements.
He said: “We have also noted comments on the facts that the National Assembly approved these loans, so why turn around to probe it now? Well, I remember stating in our last meeting here, that executive scrutiny and oversight by the legislature on government policies, programmes and projects can be done at the beginning, during implementation and at the end of implementation.
“From our experience, the MDAs sign these commercial agreements in billions of dollars, then go the president and Federal Executive Council for approval to execute including securing loan facilities through the ministry of finance and Debt Management Office (DMO) and then proceed to negotiate the terms of these loans before coming back to Mr. President who then writes the National Assembly asking for approval for billions of dollars to do projects without attaching the negotiated loan and commercial contracts agreements details.
“This approach is the reason we have government representatives signing empty pages of loan agreements repayment schedule and other key documents required for the loan agreements to become effective. We have commercial contracts signed in US Dollars, while the loan agreements for the execution of the same contracts were signed in Chinese YUAN currency in Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy/Galaxy Backbone limited."
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Amaechi disclosed that Nigeria is already repaying China loans.
It was reported that the minister made this known during a live television programme (Democracy Today) aired on AIT on Saturday, August 1.
He said out of the $500m loan the federal government took to build the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, $96m has been paid.
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