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GEJ Asks Reps To Approve $4.43bn Foreign Loan As Terror Bill Stalls

Source: thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO: PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN.
PHOTO: PRESIDENT GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN.
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ABUJA, Oct 13, (THEWILL) - President Goodluck Jonathan today wrote to the House of Representatives asking legislators to approve a balance of $4.43 billion dollars being part of the country’s external borrowing plan for the 2010 fiscal year just as the Anti-Terrorism Bill could not enjoy easy passage as envisaged and has been recommitted to a special ad-hoc committee to review the report by the House Joint Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Judiciary and Justice to which the Bill was earlier committed.

It will be recalled that the National Assembly had earlier approved $915 million dollars, out of the $5.242 billion dollars borrowing plan, which the President explained would be used to finance the "negotiated, appraised and pipeline projects."

The President in a letter to the House explained that the country was faced with huge infrastructural deficit which her annual budgets would not be able to address, noting that the loans were highly concessionary.

"You may please recall that in consideration of the 2010 budget in conjunction with the aforementioned borrowing plan, the National Assembly graciously approved the International Development Association [IDA] component of the negotiated projects in the sum of USD915 million out of USD1854.71, leaving the balance of 939.71 for negotiated projects, USD1073.2 million for appraised projects and USD2415.0 billion for pipeline projects. The entire balance now remaining for National Assembly’s approval is USD4, 427.91 billion," the President stated.

He further explained that he had directed the Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga to monitor the projects being executed with the earlier approved loan, with a view to ensuring that the monies were judiciously utilized.

However, the early passage of the anti-terrorism Bill as promised by Speaker Dimeji Bankole recently may not be in sight as the House could not consider the report of its committee but rather reassigned the bill to another joint committee for further scrutiny.

Bankole while on a visit to commiserate with victims of the October 1st bomb blasts at National Hospital, Abuja told journalists that members have some reservations on the draft bill but added that it will get a speedy consideration.

At the plenary, the first sign of the delay emanated when the report was mentioned for consideration by Speaker Bankole who was presiding, but Chairman of the joint committee which laid the report, Honourable Rabe Nasir was absent at plenary.

However, Chairman of the Committee on Rules and Business, Honourable Ita Enang stepped in, explaining to the Speaker that he [Enang] would move the motion, considering the urgency attached to the bill.

During the clause by clause consideration, Chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, Honourable Abdul Ningi fired the first salvo, seeking to know which organizations should be classified as "proscribed" as stated in clause four of the bill, and whether they may include foreign organizations.

He was immediately followed by the Chairman, Committee on Justice, Honourable Henry Seriake, who curiously heads one of the committees that jointly worked on the bill.

According to him, work still needs to be done, as the bill, he noted was attempting to confer the powers the Director General of the State Security Service [SSS] and that the key security agencies saddled with the responsibility of executing the law ought to be consulted on the implementation modalities, which he said were completely absent in the bill.

Agreeing with the issues raised by Dickson who said the bill ought to come out well, Nafada committed the bill to the Chairmen of the Committees on Police Affairs, Interior, Justice, Judiciary, National Security, Drugs, Narcotic and Financial Crimes and Human Rights, to review the bill and report back in two weeks.