The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has disclosed that the loan the Nigerian government got from China for the rail projects across the country are paid back within 20 years.
In a statement released on Saturday august 1, the previous Governor of Rivers state disclosed that China is that the only country giving out loans with an occasional rate of 2.8 per cent.
The statement read;
“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation doesn’t take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.
“What I signed is what’s called commercial contract, which is contract between the federal government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is sometimes signed by the ministry of finance.
“Whether is that the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the problem is that no-one will provide you with loan freed from charge.
“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you just are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.
“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay per those terms we’ve agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me after I come to gather back the guarantee that was advance, that’s all.
“We are paying the loans. within the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that of the 500million dollars loan, we’ve paid 96 million dollars already, Nigeria is already paying.
“And the five hundred million dollars wasn’t taken by us, it had been taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term which clause was there.
“Nigeria has the capacity to pay back for the amount of 20 years at 2.8 per cent, which country will offer you that loan? Secondly, these loans aren’t given to us, they’re paid on to the contractors.
“Once they sign that the task has been done, they pay the contractors which has never happened before and this project are in situ. Are they trying to rubbish the very fact that there’s a railway from Abuja-Kaduna?
“There is not any loan in Nigeria, either internal or external that’s not approved by the National Assembly, none. Chinese government won’t even provide you with a loan without an approval by the National Assembly because if they provide you a loan without the approval from NASS that’s no loan.”
Amaechi further stated that the loan is required to spice up infrastructural development across the country and only assets constructed with such loans are taken back just in case there’s a default in repayment.
“What you are doing is you provides a sovereign guarantee which guarantee is that the immunity clause they’re talking about.
“When we are saying, I offer you a sovereign guarantee and that we get immunity clause, the immunity clause is that, if tomorrow i’m ineffective to pay and you come to gather the things we’ve got given, that these are the things that am putting down as guarantee, I can waive my immunity and say no you can’t touch it am sovereign country.
“So, they’re saying, if you’re powerless to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that may make us recover our funds. So, is China our father that may give us money for free?
“It may be a standard clause in every agreement whether is America we signed it with, whether is Britain, any country would want to understand that they’ll recover their money.
“Anybody that’s saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, regrettable for the person, because it simply means in trade that i’m not supplying you with this loan freed from charge.
“Just such as you attend the bank to gather a loan, the instant you don’t pay they are going after your assets you set down, that’s all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become President or Minister.
“And if the assets you set down become depreciated then you negotiate which assets they’ll chase. Chinese will never take over what wasn’t constructed with the loan.
“The Chinese is simply asking us to point out them the evidence that we are going to pay back, which is that the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they will take back their assets.”
Commenting on the Zambian experience, Amaechi reiterated that the Chinese government will never take over infrastructure that wasn’t constructed from the money taken. He also disclosed that the federal ministry of finance has started return a number of the loans.
“They are meeting the wants, at any point in time that we want to pay, we’ll pay. 1.6 billion dollars was taken to repair Lagos to Ibadan, we are inquiring for 5.3 billion dollars to repair from Ibadan to Kano.
“3.2 billion dollars to mend Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about 11.1billion dollars, if those things were done after we had money, the infrastructure are here today? the solution is not any.”