President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sort out the technical details of $4.5 billion Chinese loan for the procurement of strategic machinery needed to boost agricultural development in the country.
The loan has a repayment period of 20 years with five-year moratorium and an interest rate of one per cent per annul.
Nigeria’s foreign debt increased to $11406.28 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 from $11261.89 million.
The Zamfara State Governor, Abdulazeez Yari and the Minister of Agricultural Resources, Audu Ogbeh disclosed this after a meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday. Yari said the loan was part of negotiations held to deal with the procurement of needed machinery for agricultural development in all states of the federation when the president visited China last year.
“They are giving us a credit line of $4.5 billion which will cover the machinery and infrastructure, such as rural earth dams and irrigation. The loan has a 20-year repayment term with five years moratorium.
“Understanding the economy of Nigeria, we negotiated to give a counterpart funding of 10 percent which we believe Nigeria can do, and we are targeting the natural resources fund from the counterpart funding,” the governor said.
He added that discussions were ongoing with the Chinese group, the Nigerian governors and the technical committee set up by the minister and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Yari explained that they were in the Villa to get Buhari’s approval to move to the next level of negotiations.
“The president has given us his commitment and also asked us to engage the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the CBN to conclude and then the Minister of Agriculture will make a presentation to council and the National Assembly for final approval,” he said.
Ogbe explained that an agreement which involved all the states including FCT was signed by the Federal Ministry of Agricultural for the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture. They include tractors, bulldozers, graders, irrigation pumps, trailers and so on from China.
Meanwhile, Yari has urged Nigerians to consider the benefits the Paris Club refund has brought to states, such as helping to clear salary and
“Let me tell you the truth, the London Paris club refund has helped this economy. Those in the states know about it; we were able to pay salaries during the Christmas and New Year and to do so many things.”