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Senate rejects FG’s $700m loan request for water projects

A senate panel has rejected the federal government’s $700 million loan request for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH).

In May, the World Bank approved a $700 million credit facility for the federal government to enable 1.4 million people to access improved sanitation services.

Esther Walson-Jack, permanent secretary, ministry of water resources, who appeared before the panel to defend the ministry’s 2022 budget, told the lawmakers that $640 million out of the proposed loan would be deployed for the project, while $60 million is earmarked for capacity building.

“The proposal was negotiated with the World Bank on April 2021 and approved at Federal Executive Council on August 11, 2021,” Walson-Jack said.

“States that would benefit from the $700 million loan from World Bank are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau, with counterpart funding of $175 million.

“The programme will deliver improved water sanitation and hygiene services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 Communities to achieve an end to open defecation free status.”

However, Clifford Ordia, chairman of the committee, said several loans had been approved for various water projects.

According to him, $450 million was approved for the same project being financed by Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and $6 million under the integrated programme for development — financed by AfDB and Gurara water project.

“You need to tell us what you are doing with $700 million for water projects,” Ordia said.

Another lawmaker, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, asked his colleagues to decline approval for the loan because other loans had been approved for the same purpose.

“What is the criterion for selecting benefiting states? The details you are providing is not enough. What are the projects you want to do with $640 million, and how much water are you going to do,” he asked.

“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity, do we need a loan to do this function? You mean all states can’t do that on their own?”

The committee ruled that Adamu Suleiman, minister of water resources, should appear before it to account for water projects approved for the ministry.


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