From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The Federal Government has charged Nigerians not to lose sleep over the loans it is taking from the Chinese and other financial bodies across the globe, assuring that borrowings were for the good of the people.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince 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 was speaking in Lejja, Enugu State shortly after inspecting the extent of work on the 7.5kilometers Aku-Lejja-Nsukka rural road project which is as part of federal government’s Covid-19 intervention to boost agriculture, said Nigerians would have been worried had the monies been borrowed for consumption.
The Minister further explained that the interest rate of the loans were not more than three per cent adding that with 10 and 20 years moratorium in some cases, the loans could comparatively, be referred as “gift” to the 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 per cent 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 realize that 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 things. In other parts of the world, you move heavy things by rail and that is what we are trying to do by ensuring that 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 noted that the federal government approved N34 billion for construction of 377 rural roads in 266 communities in the country and another N60 billion for rehabilitation of major highways and bridges so as to connect different parts of the country.
Government desire to construct rural roads, especially in agrarian communitieshe said was to boost agriculture, following the realization that over 60 per cent of farm produce do not get to their end users or markets, due to poor road networks.
He said he came to inspect the roads following the interest President Buhari had shown on common Nigerians who voted him to power, assuring that the president would not forget any rural community in Nigeria.
Earlier, the people of Lejja who said that it was the first time the community was experiencing tarred road in the over 2000 years of its existence, had showered praises on President Buhari for the road construction.
In their address presented by Prof Athanasius Eze, they stated that they never imagined that “the plague Covid -19 would bring us a tarred road,” and appealed for the completion of about five kilometers untarred portion of the road.