CSO queries $800m World Bank loan for fuel subsidy

Buhari and new naira notes

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre has queried the $800m World Bank loan taken by the Federal Government as a palliative to cushion the effect of the proposed fuel subsidy removal, scheduled for June 2023.

The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, in a statement on Sunday, lamented what he described as the “nonchalant attitude” of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, towards the country’s crippling debt crisis.

According to him, borrowing to fund post-fuel subsidy removal palliatives is strange, noting that “if the fuel subsidy removal process has been suspended as announced by the Minister of Finance after the NEC meeting at the end of April, then the government should return the borrowed money because what are we taking the loan for?”

Mr Rafsanjani said the news of the borrowed $800 million from the World Bank sent waves of worry in the minds of Nigerians as Nigeria’s revenue collection in 2022 stood at N10 trillion, with a debt of about N77 trillion.

“In 2022, Nigeria paid about N7 trillion in fuel subsidy and in 2023, from January to June when the country intends to stop paying the subsidy, it is N3.6 trillion. So if we are paying such a whopping amount of money when subsidy is removed, we should have enough savings instead of taking additional loans, we can use the subsidy funds for post fuel subsidy removal.”

He said rather than borrow money from the World Bank, what the government needed to do was to cut waste, while querying spending by the Ministries of Aviation and Communication and Digital Economy”.

“As a matter of fact, we don’t need to borrow. What we need to do is to cut waste. Just recently, we all saw the aviation minister announce that he bought 10 firefighting trucks for over 12 billion naira. Is this what we are borrowing to spend on?

Also, we read that the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy announced the approval of 24.2 billion to provide internet facilities at airports and some institutions amongst other places. These are the things we are spending on a few weeks before the end of this administration and this is unacceptable”.

CISLAC also condemned the reckless spending of the present administration, with only a few weeks to go, while stating that it was unnecessary and was a clear sign of diversion of public funds for personal interest rather than the overall good of the country.

He called on the financial watch-dogs of the country to spotlight all public spendings that have not followed an adequate procurement process.

He said, “What’s the need for acquiring fighter trucks towards the end of an administration in a position you have held for over 8 years but you find no need to acquire the trucks until the end? This is a clear sign of contract scams that do not follow due processes and public interest, it is simply financial recklessness.

“And Nigeria as a nation that is so swamped up in debts, cannot afford that right now, because where’s the public interest in that elephant project? Also, the Minister of Communications has gone ahead to get an approval of FEC for N24.2bn for internet access at airports and universities but these are services that naturally should be done by service providers”.

He further stated that the was in a “debt trap”, adding that “records from both national and international financial and debt institutions regarding Nigeria’s debt, reveal a state in crisis.”