From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The Federal Government has charged Nigerians not to lose sleep over loans it is taking from the Chinese and other financial bodies across the globe, saying borrowings are for the good of the people.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, said there was no reason for Nigerians to panic over the borrowings as they would ultimately benefit the people, more so, as the monies were being expended on productive ventures.
Agba, who spoke in Lejja, Enugu State after inspecting the extent of work on the 7.5 kilometres Aku-Lejja-Nsukka rural road project which is part of the Federal Government’s COVID-19 intervention to boost agriculture, said Nigerians would have been worried had the monies been borrowed for consumption.
The minister explained that the interest rate of the loans were not more than three percent, adding that with 10 and 20 years moratorium in some cases, the loans could comparatively be referred as ‘gift’ to Nigeria.
He said: “A lot of people talk about us borrowing. You need to understand the terms and conditions for the loans we are taking and what they are being used for. What is bad is when you go and borrow for consumption. When you borrow for something that is productive, you eventually benefit.
“The interest rate we are paying for these loans we are taking is not up to three percent and we have in some cases 10, in some cases, 20 years moratorium and some of these loans will take up to 40 years to be repaid. For those who understand basic economics, there is what is called time value for money. If you look at what it will take to pay back later, what the interest rate will be then, you will realise the monies we are taking now are just gifts.
“So, we are spending more trying to build infrastructure, to connect the rural roads to the urban roads. We are spending lot of money on roads construction across the country but if we do not develop our rail infrastructure, our roads will continue to fail and the reason is because it is carrying heavy loads.
“In other parts of the world, you move heavy loads by rail and that is what we are trying to do by ensuring we get the trains back to track. The job is an ongoing one across the country and will eventually touch every segment of the country.”
Agba said the Federal Government approved N34 billion for construction of 377 rural roads in 266 communities and another N60 billion for rehabilitation of major highways and bridges so as to connect different parts of the country.
He said government desire to construct rural roads, especially in agrarian communities was to boost agriculture, following the realisation that over 60 percent of farm produce do not get to their end users or markets, due to poor road networks.
The minister said he came to inspect the roads following the interest President Muhammadu Buhari had shown on common Nigerians who voted him to power, assuring the people that the president would not forget any rural community.
Earlier, the people of Lejja, who said it was the first time the community, would experience tarred road in the over 2,000 years of its existence, showered praises on President Buhari for the road construction.
In an address presented by Athanasius Eze, the people said they never imagined that “the plague, COVID-19 would bring us a tarred road,” and appealed for the completion of about five kilometres portion of the road yet to be tarred.