SERAP Calls For Audit Of Loans Obtained By Buhari’s Govt

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to provide the spending details of all loans obtained by his administration since May 29, 2015.

In a letter to the President dated May 30, 2020, the group urged the Nigerian leader to use his leadership position and the opportunity of the fifth year anniversary of his government to grant its request.

It called for an independent audit of all loans to resolve the purported allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

SERAP also urged the President to publish the spending details of loans obtained by successive administrations since 1999, as well as the list of countries and bodies that have given such loans with the specific repayment conditions.

It noted that President Buhari had last week sought the National Assembly’s approval for a fresh loan of $5.513 billion to fund the 2020 budget deficit, critical projects, and support some states.

In its Freedom of Information request, the group decried that while successive governments have borrowed money in the name of Nigeria and its citizens since 1999, much of the funds have reportedly been mismanaged, stolen or squandered.

According to it, opacity in the spending of loans will continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of citizens.

SERAP, however, believes transparency will ensure the loans are not diverted to private pockets, increase public trust, provide good value for money, and reassure Nigeria’s creditors.

It also advised the President to cut the costs of governance rather than taking more loans and increasing the nation’s debt burden.

Read the Freedom of Information request addressed to the President below:

30 May 2020

His Excellency

Muhammadu Buhari GCFR

President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

Aso Rock Presidential Villa

Abuja

Your Excellency,

 

Re: Freedom of Information request to publish details of spending of loans and Nigeria’s debts since the return of democracy in 1999

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is writing on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of your government in office and pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to request you to provide details of the spending loans obtained by your government since May 29, 2015, including details of projects on which the loans have been spent.

SERAP is also urging you to disclose information on details of spending of loans obtained by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999, a list of countries and bodies that have given the loans, and specific conditions of repayment of the loans.

SERAP is a non-profit, nonpartisan, legal and advocacy organization devoted to promoting transparency, accountability, and respect for socio-economic rights in Nigeria. SERAP received the Wole Soyinka Anti-Corruption Defender Award in 2014 and was nominated for the UN Civil Society Award and Ford Foundation’s Jubilee Transparency Award. SERAP serves as one of two Sub-Saharan African civil society representatives on the governing Committee of the UNCAC Coalition, a global anti-corruption network of over 380 civil society organizations (CSOs) in over 100 countries.

According to our information, your government has recently sought the approval of the National Assembly for a fresh loan of $5.513 billion, reportedly to finance the 2020 budget deficit and critical projects as well as support states in the country. Several such loans have been obtained from China, the World Bank, and other sources, including the N850 billion loan, which the National Assembly speedily approved. Another loan of $22.79bn, which has reportedly been approved by the Senate is now pending before the House of Representatives.

SERAP is seriously concerned that while successive governments since 1999 have borrowed money in the name of Nigeria and its citizens, much of the funds have reportedly been mismanaged, stolen, or squandered, leaving the future generation of Nigerians with the burden to repay these loans.

We are concerned about the massive and growing national debts, and the negative impacts on socio-economic development as well as access of Nigerians to public goods and services, including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water, and regular electricity supply.

While access to loans can provide indispensable resources, the mismanagement and squandering of any such resources would be counter-productive. Nigerians should no longer be made to repay debts incurred in their name but which have not benefited them in any manner, shape, or form.

Transparency and accountability in the spending details of all the loans that have so far been obtained by your government and those obtained by previous administrations would mean that the loans can help Nigeria to overcome its acute development challenges, reduce the possibility of mismanagement and corruption. It would also help to avoid a morally repugnant result of visiting the sins of corrupt governments and officials on innocent Nigerians.

Opacity in the spending of loans would continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of citizens. Transparency would ensure that the loans are not diverted to private pockets, increase public trust that these loans would be used to benefit Nigerians, provide good value for money, and reassure Nigeria’s creditors.

Any unresolved allegations of mismanagement, bribery and corruption in the use of loans would continue to deprive millions of Nigerians access to basic public goods and services including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water, and would leave your government without the resources to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Rather than taking more loans and increasing Nigeria’s debts burden, we urge you to exercise sufficient political will to urgently promote ground-breaking reforms to cut the costs of governance, including by instructing the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN to immediately enforce the judgment by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo ordering your government to recover pensions collected by former governors and challenge the legality of states’ pension laws permitting public officials to collect such pensions.

Ensuring the enforcement of the judgment would remove the burden on your government of constantly providing financial support to state governors, and ensure that state governors are not using financial support from the Federal Government to finance the lavish lifestyles of former governors with impunity.

SERAP, therefore, urges you to urgently commission an independent audit on the spending of loans so far obtained by your government and previous administrations with a view to resolving any allegations of mismanagement and corruption in the spending of such loans.

We urge you to ensure that those suspected to be responsible for any mismanagement and corruption are promptly referred to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for further investigation, and where there is relevant admissible evidence, prosecution.

We also urge you to promptly instruct Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the spending of all loans obtained since the assumption of office of your government in May 2015.

SERAP also urges you to disclose:

  1. Details of the spending of loans obtained by your government since May 29, 2015, including specific details of projects and locations of the projects as well as the conditions of any such projects;
  2. Total amount of debts that have so far been incurred by your government, including the interest rate, the details of debts inherited from the previous administrations, and details of refinancing of any such loans, as well as any strategy put together on borrowing decisions, and to promote sustainable borrowing;
  3. Whether any public officials solicited and/or received bribes in the negotiations for any of the loans

By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the details of spending of the loans and debts incurred by your government and previous administrations. By Section 4 (a) of the FoI Act, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.

By Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the FoI Act, there is a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information relating to the details of spending of the loans and debts incurred by your government and previous administrations are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means. The information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act.

The information requested for as indicated above, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, the interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency, and accountability.

We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.

Please accept the expression of our highest consideration. Thanking you in advance for your urgent attention to the matter.

Yours sincerely,

Kolawole Oluwadare

Deputy Director

 

CC:

Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN

Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice

Federal Ministry of Justice

Shehu Shagari Way,

Central Area

Abuja

 

Mrs Zainab Ahmed

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning

Ahmadu Bello Way, Central Business District

Abuja

 

Ms Patience Oniha

Director-General of the Debt Management Office

NDIC Building (1st Floor)

Plot 447/448 Constitution Avenue,

Central Business District

P.M.B. 532, Garki Abuja

Germany Guarantees 100% Of Loans To Smaller Firms In COVID-19 Aid Package

File photo/ AFP

 

Berlin will guarantee 100 percent of loans made by banks to small- and medium-sized firms, ministers said Monday, in an extension to the 1.1-trillion-euro coronavirus crisis package in Europe’s top economy.

“These speedy loans should make sure that middle-sized companies have liquidity quickly, without taxpayers losing too much money,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told reporters in the German capital.

The federal government will stand fully behind 500,000 euros ($540,000) of lending to companies with up to 50 employees and 800,000 euros for larger ones up to 250 workers.

Monday’s moves ups the guarantee level from a previous 80 percent for large firms or 90 percent for smaller ones, levels that were still causing banks to think twice about granting loans.

Companies this size “typically have credit needs in small amounts, but that have to be paid very quickly,” Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said.

The government is “very sure that there’s little likelihood of companies failing to repay,” Scholz added.

Berlin’s economic aid so far totals over 1.1 trillion euros, the finance ministry said in an answer to an opposition parliamentary question seen by AFP Monday.

Ministers have agreed a 600-billion-euro “economic stabilisation fund” offering 400 billion euros of guarantees for companies’ debts, 100 billion to lend directly to or buy stakes in troubled firms, and 100 billion euros to fund state investment bank KfW.

Meanwhile the amount of company borrowing KfW can guarantee has been boosted by 357 billion euros, for a total of 822 billion.

To keep their liquidity flowing, companies will also be able to delay tax payments.

Berlin says it will offer 50 billion euros of support for small and one-man-band companies, like photographers, musicians or carers.

Depending on the number of employees, individual companies will receive up to 15,000 euros each to keep the lights on over a period of three months.

Meanwhile freelancers applying for unemployment benefit will not be forced to seek new work.

– 156 billion euros –

Germany has also eased access to a programme that tops up workers’ pay with government cash when their hours are slashed.

The scheme is widely credited with saving large numbers of jobs during the financial crisis of 2008-9.

Berlin expects more than two million people to work shorter hours in the coronavirus crisis, far outstripping the peak seen over a decade ago.

To cover the costs, the federal labour agency (BA) will start eating into its massive cash reserves of 26 billion euros.

With 156 billion euros in new borrowing to fund the largesse and extra health spending, Berlin has been forced to suspend a “debt brake” added to the constitution at the height of the financial crisis in 2009.

A further 82.2 billion euros of measures have been announced by Germany’s federal states and municipal governments, as well as 63.2 billion in guarantees.

AFP

IMF, World Bank Call For Suspending Debt Payments By Poorest Nations

 

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Wednesday called for governments to put a hold on debt payments from the world’s poorest nations so they can battle the coronavirus pandemic.

“The World Bank Group and the IMF believe it is imperative at this moment to provide a global sense of relief for developing countries as well as a strong signal to financial markets,” the Washington-based development lenders said in a joint statement.

The move aims to help countries that are home to two-thirds of the world’s population living in extreme poverty — largely in sub-Saharan Africa — and qualify for the most generous, low-cost loans from the International Development Association (IDA) financed by wealthier nations.

“The coronavirus outbreak is likely to have severe economic and social consequences for IDA countries” which will face “immediate liquidity needs to tackle challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak,” the organization said.

The IMF and World Bank called on the Group of 20 nations to support the initiative for “all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance.”

READ ALSO: Spanish Football Federation Offers Clubs Loans To Pay Bills

In addition, the institutions called for an analysis of the financing needs these countries will face, and whether their total debt load is sustainable.

Part of the World Bank, the IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, providing zero or low interest loans spread over 30 years or more, and grants to some distressed nations.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, IDA commitments totaled $22 billion, of which 36 percent was provided on grant terms, according to the World Bank.

AFP

Spanish Football Federation Offers Clubs Loans To Pay Bills

(File) View taken on on September 16, 2017 of the new Wanda Metropolitano stadium before the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs Malaga CF in Madrid.  AFP PHOTO / OSCAR DEL POZO.

 

Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales on Wednesday announced lines of credit for lower-level clubs in difficulty because of the coronavirus pandemic and repeated that he hoped the season could be completed.

He also told an online press conference he was willing to talk to La Liga, which runs the top two divisions, about helping its clubs.

Rubiales said that semi-professional and non-professional clubs in men’s and women’s outdoor and indoor football “will have a line of credit that will reach up to four million euros ($4.3 million) depending on their wage bills”.

He said the loans would be interest free and could be repaid over two years.

Some clubs are considering introducing part-time working to compensate for lack of income.

Rubiales said he hoped that this aid would help prevent such drastic action.

“We’re talking about four million for modest levels of football, but there’s also professional football and we want to reach out to it,” said Rubiales.

“If La Liga wants to talk, it’s time to do the maths,” he said. “We have worked on a line of financing of 500 million euros.”

He said the RFEF was ready “to sit down and look for financing for clubs that are going to have a problem”.

READ ALSO: Fury-Wilder Rematch Postponed Over COVID-19

“(If the season) does not end on June 30, which is more probable, there are going to be clubs that do not receive 100 percent of the money from television,” he added.

He said he could make 500 million available “for first and second division clubs, who need 15, 20 million euros now”.

Rubiales reiterated that competition will resume “when it is possible”, but he said he wanted to “give clubs fighting relegation the chance to save themselves, and those in a position to win promotion the chance to earn it”.

AFP

Bank Loans To Private Sector Drop To N15.3tn

NBS

 

Banks reduced lending to the private sector from N15.6 trillion allocated within the first quarter of 2018 to N15.34 trillion in the second quarter.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) disclosed this in its 2018 Q2 report titled: Selected Banking Sector Data: Sectorial Breakdown of Credit, ePayment Channels and Staff Strength (Q2 2018).

The report also indicated that loans to the power and energy sector dropped to N416.34 billion, while that of the mining and quarry fell to N10.18 billion.

It, however, noted that total lending to the agriculture sector increased to N523.08 billion while the Oil & Gas and Manufacturing sectors got credit allocations of N3.45trn and N2.02trn to record the highest credit allocations within the period under review.

Furthermore, the NBS stated that a total volume of 509,668,433 transactions valued at N32.90 trillion, were recorded in Q2 as data on Electronic Payment Channels in the Nigeria Banking Sector.

Also, it said, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) transactions dominated the volume of transactions recorded, totalling N1,603billion in Q2.

The total number of bank staff increased by 13.67% from 89,608 in Q1 to 101,861.

Cross River partners with UPDC on mass housing scheme

The Cross River State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UACN Property Development Company Plc. for the construction and development of 284 housing units to be known as Golf Estate, in Calabar Cross River State.

Speaking at the ceremony, the States Deputy Governor, Efiok Cobham disclosed that, the signing of the MOU is the second of such partnerships between the Cross River State government and the private sector in its bid to provide first-class housing in the state for its workers.

He noted that, the decision to partner the company to develop the Estate is a wise one and will act as gateway for other joint-venture investments between the two partners, he however enjoined them to deliver as at when expected.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive UPDC Plc.,  Hakeem Oguniran, promised the construction of the housing units will be completed and delivered on schedule.

The signing of the MOU is the second of such construction of about 2000 housing units for civil servants through mortgage financing by Aso Savings and Loans.