House Of Reps Move To Stop NNPC's $1.5b Loan

House of Representatives yesterday halted all on-going processes of securing a fresh loan of $1.5 billion by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in the year 2013.

Aside from the claim of not having details of what the loan was meant for, the House said it opposed the proposal on the ground that it would further plunge the nation into greater indebtedness.

It further expressed concern over decision of NNPC to swap the nation's crude oil as collateral for the loan from certain banks.

After presentations by members with unanimous opposition to the proposed loan, Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal directed Committees on Justice, Enviroment, Petroleum (Upstream) and Petroleum (Downstream) to investigate the matter and bring report before the House in two weeks.

This came after the NNPC was directed by the House to stop all processes leading to securing the loan, pending completion of work by its joint Committees.

This decision by the House followed a Motion of urgent public importance raised by Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe (PDP, Imo State) where he argued that NNPC acted in error by requesting the loan.

He said the corporation deliberately circumvented relevant sections of the law which require it to table such financial transaction before the National Assembly.

In his Motion, Igbokwe said "Section 44 subsection (2) (a) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act prescribe as a mandatory condition, that government in the Federation and its agencies and corporations desirous of borrowing shall show the existence of prior authorisation in the Appropriation or other Act of Law for purpose for which the borrowing is to be utilised (to the National Assembly).

He also added that "subsection (3) of same section 21 (2) mandatorily requires the Minister to cause the budget estimate submitted by the corporation and agencies to be attached as part of the Appropriation Bill to be submitted to the National Assembly.

He said since none of these was done by NNPC or its supervising Ministry of Petroleum, there was an urgent need for the parliament to stop the loan process.

But NNPC said it is determined to obtain the $1.5 billion syndicated loan to enable it pay debts to its international fuel traders.

Technical aspect of the loan was brokered by Standard Chartered Bank late last year.

The high-interest loan, it was gathered, will be provided by some Nigerian and foreign banks.

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