Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the loan the Nigerian Government got from China for the rail projects being done in parts the country will be paid back over the next 20 years.
Amaechi in a statement said China was the only country giving out loans with a low-interest rate of 2.8 per cent.
He maintained that no country in the world would give out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.
He said, “The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.
“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.
“Whether is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.
“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.
“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.”
Amaechi further stated that it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the National Assembly but for the issue of confidentiality in government, he would have published the clauses generating dust.
He added, “The National Assembly is aware of all these loans, we can’t take loan without the National Assembly, so ask why they are investigating? The Chinese are just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.
“The payment plan is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, ours is to implement the contract. They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay.
“$1.6bn was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for $5.3bn to fix from Ibadan to Kano, $3.2bn to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about $11.1bn, if those things were done when we had money, will we be here today? The answer is no.”
On the Zambia experience, where the country could not meet up with its loan agreement, the minister said that the Chinese government will never take over infrastructure that was not constructed from the money taken.
He also acknowledged that the finance ministry in a payment plan had started paying back some of the loans collected.
He said the payment plan was the responsibility of the ministry of finance, and the Ministry of transportation was supposed to implement the contract.
“They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay. $1.6 billion was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for $5.3 billion to fix from Ibadan to Kano.
“$3.2 billion to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about $11.1billion, if those things were done when we had money, the infrastructure will be here today? The answer is no,” Amaechi added.
The minister, however, called on the National Assembly and Nigerians to appreciate government effort in providing infrastructure in the country.
Amaechi noted that the Itakpe /Warri rail project in the South-South, which was abandoned for 34 years by successive governments was fully rehabilitated by the present administration without seeking for loan.
Culled from: NAN