Monday, 25 February 2013

Amaechi Clears The Air On Conversion Of N120B Bond To Loan

Gov. Amaechi
By Chioma Andy
Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the reason his administration asked the State Assembly to convert the already approved N120 billion bond into loan was to enable his government complete ongoing projects in the state before the rainy season sets in.

Governor Amaechi made the clarification shortly after signing into law, the Rivers State 2013 appropriation bill of N490.3billion and also the state’s Internal Revenue Service bill at Government House on Friday, 22nd February, 2013.
The governor of the state noted that the process involved in obtaining bond was long and most times very difficult.

This he said would delay the speed of work and completion of projects going on in the state.
The Rivers State House of Assembly had on Wednesday, 29th February at the House Chambers approved the Governor’s request of converting the previously approved N120 billion bonds in 2013 budget to loan.
He thanked the legislators for promptly passing the appropriation bill and noted that the Executive will immediately start implementing the budget.
Amaechi also said that his administration would not go beyond the budget, “I have always told my cabinet that we must go by our budget, nobody should spend outside the budget, and there should not be any extra budgetary expenditure because I will not sign. I like to know that all expenditure is backed by the budget. Nobody should undermine the authority of the State Assembly.”
Amaechi however noted that he is ready to fight anyone that would want to smear his name on the account of the said bond to loan conversion.

“I want to join the conversation in the Assembly and say that nobody should go after my reputation. If you go after my reputation I will come out and fight like a lion. When we asked for you to convert the bond you approved, N120 billion bond which you have approved for long and to convert it into loan because we looked at it that by the time you finish the process of bond and all that, and the bond currently is at 14 percent, it will affect development and the reality is that we have effectively one dry season. So if I have one dry season and you members of the Rivers State House of Assembly approved by law the debt financing of the budget by N100 billion, all I did was to come back to you to say, this N120 billion you have approved convert it from bond to loan. So if any member get up in the Assembly and say the Executive should show us what they have done, I can mention my administration’s projects in anybody’s village here.

Amaechi continued by adding that, “anybody who says he is not having government projects in his local government Area should get up and I will name what I have done in his Local Government Area as governor of Rivers State. Please nobody should bring Abuja politics into the Assembly because I will fight back like a lion,” he warned.

Hon. Martins Amaewhule, member representing Obio/Akpor Constituency I at the Rivers State House of Assembly had on Wednesday, during the debate on the request made by the Governor to convert the bond to loan said that his concerns were that the projects to be carried out by this loan should were not stated.
He said that it was important to highlight the projects that are to be carried out with the loan so as to avoid a situation where loans would be obtained by an administration and at the end of the day, that project would not completed and another administration would demand for another loan for the same project.

Hon Michael Chinda, member representing Obio/Akpor Constituency II had also in his debate said that the House had not asked why the bond which was approved since last year was not accessed.
In his concern, he said that the interest rate of the 4 banks that would grant the loan to government were not stipulated; therefore not making it clear on how much the state would be owing in totality.

Still emphasising on his administration’s willingness to clear any misconceptions on the budget, Amaechi said, “You (the Assembly) on your own approved for us three hundred and something billion naira as budget, I said okay having approved N100billion for the debt financing of the budget, out of the three hundred and something billion naira that will come from Abuja, allow me extra N20billion as bridge financing which you approved.”

Amaechi still stressing on his administration’s willingness to be accountable to the House of Assembly said, “All money will be attached to projects. I will make sure you get copies of the projects so that you can do your oversight function. Ask commissioners what they doing with the money and I can tell you now how the loan will be spent. N40billion will go to ministry of works. N20billion will go to ministry of education to complete the primary schools that have not been completed and complete the secondary schools. I have given the commissioner for education a directive to complete seven secondary schools by September this year.”

Other model secondary schools, according to the governor would be completed gradually as the state gets money from the Federation Account.
Amaechi also said, “If I had 12 months of dry season, i won't ask for loan. We have money but it is not enough to do all the projects we want to do at the same time. That was why I asked you, the Assembly to permit me to borrow money because by June, we will have rainy season and nobody can work. You just have to wait for the rains to stop before you can start work again”.

He challenged anybody to a debate on the transparency of his administration.
The governor insinuating that he was been fought by some Rivers Assembly Members who were sponsored from Abuja said,
"People should stop playing politics with development. House Members should be very vigilant and not allow people who are been sponsored from Abuja to fight us, to use them to fight us. This is about development, about the lives of our people and not some cheap petty politics by persons who do not care about the people."

He said he was ready to present to the State legislature, the state's statement of account publicly.
Amaechi added that from the loan, N10billion each will be allocated to healthcare and the monorail project.
Speaking to pressmen after the ceremony, chairman of the Assembly on House standing Committee on Finance, Hon. John Josiah Olu explained that the loan apart from having a lower interest rate compared to the bond would help the Amaechi administration complete all its projects in the state before the rainy season.

“From the explanation of the executive, the four consortia of banks that are ready to give this fund to us are giving us the funds almost lower than the bond market was supposed to charge us as interest on the funds. That is why government decided to convert the bond that the House resolution approved for the executive to go to the market to source for, into a loan. What we are doing is just to convert the bond to a loan. It’s just a change of nomenclature; the changing of a name from bond to loan. The bond was well captured in the 2013 appropriation law that was assented to by the executive governor today” Olu said.

In another development, Rivers State Government has reiterated its commitment to complete Ada-George Road in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area this year.
The State Commissioner of Works, Hon. Victor Giadom disclosed this while addressing newsmen in his office recently.
He said that the road would gulp a whooping sum of N16.2billion while assuring that the quality of work on the road was worth the amount.

Giadom said that the State Government had already made 75 per cent down payment to the contractor in order to make sure that the construction experiences no hitches and expressed optimism that the road would be completed on schedule.

Meanwhile, Hon. Giadom has urged contractors handling various road projects in the State, earmarked to be completed this year to ensure that they deliver on their promises, reminding them that Government has kept its own obligation by ensuring payment according to schedule.

He further explained that Ada George is a six lane dual carriage way, and that the first lanes had been completed, adding that work on the second three lanes was in progress.

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