Ngozi in Beijing for $3bn Chinese loans

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is in China with a 17-member delegation to woo Chinese investors to Nigeria.

Today, the minister will lead her team, drawn from the Executive and National Assembly, to meet officials of Export-Import Bank of China and China Development Bank over a $3bn loan to fund some infrastructure.

The $3bn, which attracts 3 percent interest rate, is part of the $7.9bn external loans that President Goodluck Jonathan is requesting the National Assembly to approve.

The $7.9bn loans will be drawn over a three -year period of $2.6bn per year, the minister said. Ngozi said the country’s external borrowing plan is a medium term, from 2012 to 2014 and that government has put a ceiling of 30 percent of the country’s GDP to borrowing.

Apart from China, others where the loans will be drawn from include the African Development Bank, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, French Aid agency and India.

Nigeria’s external debt as at December 31, 2011 was $5.7 billion.

She said government is working hard to ensure that most of the projects the loans are meant for are either completed or at the level of completion before the end of this administration.

“Like the rail modernization project, we want to ensure that in the life time of the administration, one or two of them are at least completed for Nigerians to be able to see,” she said.

Some of the projects include the Abuja light rail ($500m); Bauchi State power  ($171m); agriculture ($500m); Galaxy Backbone ICT ($100m); and aviation ($500m).

At a briefing attended by Bauchi State Governor Isa Yuguda, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, among others, Ngozi said the delegation should not discuss finance with individual companies “because this approach doesn’t always take into account our priorities.”

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