Senate President Ahmad Lawan has said that borrowing to fund infrastructure is not a bad thing, adding that is the only way the country can meet its infrastructural needs.
Speaking with journalists after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock villa on Thursday, Lawan said revenues are not readily available while Nigerians cannot be taxed further.
He said: “Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we don’t have the necessary revenues. Nigeria is poor; we shouldn’t deceive ourselves.
“Nigeria is not rich, given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have. Our resources are so low; our revenues are so low, and therefore, the option of not doing anything, just to sit — because we have no money, we shouldn’t go for infrastructure development — is not even an option worthy of consideration.
“You cannot keep the economy stagnant. Two, you cannot, in my view and judgement, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructure development. Other countries do that, but we have serious situations across the country, so you cannot put taxes on people.
“The other option is public-private partnership. You need to create the environment to attract investors to come into our country; because of the security challenges we face today, not many investors would like to come to Nigeria.
“In fact, even those inside Nigeria may not like to invest properly in this sector of infrastructure development.
“So, the only option left is for us to borrow — borrow responsibly, utilise prudently and economically, and ensure that the projects are self-sustaining so that they can pay back the loans, so that the Nigerian economy will benefit from the implementation of such infrastructure development.”
Lawan said the National Assembly will always follow due diligence in approving loan requests of the executive arm of government.
He said: “What I want to assure Nigerians is that we are not going to be frivolously supporting or approving loans for the executive arm of government. Whenever we have to approve any loan, we have to insist on the details of what projects will be funded by those loans.
“We’ll have to look at the conditions that are attached to the loans, they must be favourable conditions before we approve and we will be up to date with our oversight to ensure that what we have approved is directly deployed and on those projects that we have also approved for implementation. So, we will not be frivolous and will not take it lightly to just approve any loan.”
The senate president said the long awaited Petroleum Industry Bill will be laid before the two chambers of the National Assembly during plenary next Tuesday.
He added that the National Assembly is working to pass the electoral act amendment bill before it embarks on its annual recess in July.