Senators Block Debate on $30m Sao Tome's Loan Request

Source: EMMA UCHE -

ABUJA, June 30, (THEWILL) - The Senate today blocked consideration of the request to reverse the conditions for the US$30million soft loan granted to the government of Sao Tome and Principe early this year.

The snag was sequel to the observations made by Senators that the request was not backed with details.

It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had in a letter last week urged the Senators to approve a request by the government of Sao Tome and Principe to extend the tenor of the $30 million soft loan from the earlier agreed six years to thirty.

Jonathan in his letter had told the lawmakers that the Prime Minister of Sao Tome and Principe had asked for the reversal of the loan conditions because of the burden placed on them by the IMF program which the country entered into recently. The IMF programme, he added, does allow that country to take only long-term loans.

The Senate and the Executive Council of the Federation had approved the USD30 million loans to the government of Sao Tome and Principe with a tenor of six years, no interest charge and moratorium with a disbursement plan of $10 million every six months – over an 18 months period.

The Sao Tome and Principe Prime Minister is now asking for the reversal of the earlier agreed conditions with a tenor of 30 years, a six years moratorium and three years disbursement plan, still at no interest charge.

Despite that fact that the first tranche of USD10 million have been disbursed, yet the loan agreements are yet to be signed by the government of both nations.

President Jonathan in the letter declared that; "In view of the strategic nature of our relationship with Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe, and considering the need to provide all necessary and reasonable support to the country, the Prime Minister’s request was acceded to."

He added that the adjusted conditions will not adversely affect the finances of Nigeria, but the senators demanded details of the loan document.

Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta) declared that; "Unless somebody presents the details of the document, we have nothing to contribute."

However, President of the Senate, Senator David Mark made efforts to convince the lawmakers that the President’s letter was explanatory enough an as such contained the necessary details, but nonetheless he acceded to the position of the Senators to step down the request for another legislative day.

"Although the letter is self explanatory, we will step it down and take it on another legislative day," he told the Senators while ruling.