FG okays $2.9bn Eurobond issuance to fund budget

The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the issuance of $2.9bn and other securities in Eurobond from the international capital market.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Ahmed said the Eurobond provided for in the 2018 Appropriation Act was meant to finance capital projects of the budget.

She added that N374.618m was also approved as payment for the transaction partners.

She said, “Today (Wednesday), in the Federal Executive Council, we got approval for the issuance of $2.9bn and other securities in Eurobonds from the international capital market and the focus of this approval is to enable us implement the external borrowing plan of N849.67bn equivalent of $2.786bn, which is provided for in the 2018 Appropriation Act, and this is to fund capital projects in the 2018 budget.

“We also, as part of that, got approval to raise the sum of $82.54m to bridge the shortfall of the $500m Eurobond that matured on July 12, 2018. In addition to this approval for the issuance of the Eurobond, we also got the approval for payment to transaction parties their respective fees like settling bills and expenses.

“We have as parties for the transactions, two joint league managers, a combination of Citibank Group as well as Standard Chartered Bank as joint league managers, and FSB Merchant Bank as financial advisers, the White and Case LIP as legal managers and Ighodalo as legal advisers for Nigeria. The total cost for this advisory group is N374,618,889.”

The minister stated that the council also approved the Livelihood of Family Improvement Project in the Niger Delta, also called Life and D.

She said the approval was in the sum of $60m that would be a combination of loans and grants.

According to her, the projects will be implemented in the Niger Delta states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers.

“However, when we reviewed the project in the nine states, we found that six of the states met their own requirements, while three did not. So, the three will be assisted to enable them improve and join the team in 2019,” she added.

The minister said about two weeks ago, N460bn was released for capital projects in the 2018 budget.

On Paris Club Refund, Ahmed said the President had approved the payment of the last tranche to the states with some conditions, which were being worked out with the states.

She explained, “Those conditions that Mr President gave are that we must show that the states have used the previous refunds for payment of salaries and they will use this one also for payment of salaries.

“The states that were not paid were Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Imo, because they had some deficiencies and the agency that is handling it is working to bridge the gap.”

Ahmed also said the approval given by the President on the entitlements of the defunct Nigeria Airways’ former workers was for 50 per cent.

She expressed the hope that the balance would be approved in 2019.

The minister also said the council approved N187m for the procurement of 600 bulletproof vests and helmets for the Nigeria Customs Service.

The approval, she explained, was meant to strengthen the fight against rice smuggling into the country.

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