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Diri gets Assembly’s approval for another N17bn loan


Simon Utebor, Yenagoa

Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has secured the approval of the state House of Assembly for an additional N17bn loan from multiple sources to fund his administration’s policies and programmes.

The House of Assembly expeditiously granted the approval on Thursday upon return from its long vacation at the plenary.

Checks at the official website of the Debt Management Office indicated that the debt profile of the state as at June 30, 2020, stood at N150.05bn while as at March 31, 2020, a few weeks from February 14, 2020; the debt stock was N154.951, 999,955.49, indicating a marginal decline.

Recall that the Assembly had on March 3, 2020, two weeks after Diri’s inauguration, the Governor got approval to borrow N2.9bn from commercial banks to purchase cars for himself and top government officials.

The approval followed a motion moved by the Leader of the House, Monday Obolo, Southern Ijaw Constituency 2, and seconded by Charles Daniel, Brass Constituency I, supported by intensive debates in support for the approval.

Diri in three separate letters dated October 26, 2020, and November 9, 2020, addressed to the Speaker of the House, read at the plenary by the Clerk of the House, Mr. Edward K Owudogu, had solicited the lawmakers’ approval for his requests.

In the requests, the governor sought the House approval to access a N4bn Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) counterpart fund and a N10bn facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to develop oil palm potential.

In another letter, the governor also urged the House to approve N3bn as a revolving temporary credit facility, with a 12-month tenor to fund the state financing gap when there is a shortfall in monthly revenue accruing to the state.

Diri’s letter read in part: “As part of this administration’s efforts to cushion the effect of the global economic downturn occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the dwindling oil revenues, we seek to take advantage of intervention funds from the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) programme.

READ ALSO: Diri to Bayelsans: have confidence in our administration

“The facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria will aid the state government to develop our oil palm potential, while the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Counterpart Fund is a prerequisite for the state to attract a matching grant under the SDGs.”

He explained that the N4bn SDG counterpart fund would be obtained from a commercial bank.

According to the letter, the N10bn facility from the CBN when acquired would be used to finance the development and expansion of existing oil palm potential in the state.

In the letter requesting N3bn, Diri stated: “Due to the global economic downturn and dwindling revenue, it has become imperative to source for a revolving short-term credit finance line to fund gaps when there is a shortfall in monthly revenue accruing to the state.

“This credit line will enable the state government to respond appropriately to critical monthly financial obligations. The standing instruction will eliminate recurring documentation costs.

“The facility shall be for a tenure of twelve months as a temporary overdraft with short-term Clean up Circle.”

The House also approved the governor’s request for the appointment of additional 10 Special Advisers in line with the provision of Section 196 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

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