The Debt Management Office has said all the loans collected by the Federal Government from China, which are being scrutinised by the House of Representatives, were approved by the National Assembly.
The House of Representatives had on May 11 mandated its committees on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Finance and Debt Management to liaise with the Ministry of Finance and the DMO to seek a review or outright cancellation of loans taken by Nigeria from China since 2000.
The lawmakers also set up an investigation committee to look into all loan agreements between Nigeria and China since 2000.
The investigation committee is to ascertain the viability of the loans in order to regularise and renegotiate them.
The action of the House was based on its declaration that the National Assembly was not aware of how the Federal Government collected most of the Chinese loans.
The House also said the National Assembly was not aware of how the loans were utilised by the Federal Government.
However, the DMO faulted the position of the House of Representatives on the Chinese loans.
In response to enquiries by our correspondent, the DMO said the National Assembly was aware of the process leading to the procurement of the concerned loans and approved them.
Director General of the DMO, Ms Patience Oniha, in response to an email by our correspondent, said the procurement of the loans was in line with the country’s borrowing guidelines.
“If you check the borrowing guidelines and recall press reports on requests submitted to the National Assembly for new borrowing, you would know that loans, including the Chinese loans, are approved by the National Assembly before they are contracted,” Oniha said.
Nigeria currently owes the EXIM Bank of China $3.18bn – by far the country’s highest bilateral debt to a particular country.
Nigeria’s external debt stock as of December 31, 2019 – the latest figures from the DMO – shows that the country’s total bilateral debt stock stood at $3.85bn.
Bilateral debts make up 34.47 per cent of the country’s external debt portfolio of $11.17bn.
The House of Representatives moved against the Chinese loans following a motion entitled ‘Urgent Need to Review and Renegotiate Existing China/Nigeria Loan Agreements’, which was moved during plenary by Ben Igbakpa, from Delta State.