Twenty-four hours after the federal government announced the $4.5 billion loan deal with China to fund agriculture, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved another $1.3 billion loan to support the Development Bank of Nigeria’s funding for small scale businesses.
Making this disclosure while briefing journalists after the FEC meeting in the Presidential Villa, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said the loan would enable the bank to fund small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
According to her, the loan proposal which she said would be subject to National Assembly’s approval, consists of $500 million World Bank loan and $450 million to be obtained from the African Development Bank (ADB), among others.
“The other memo was an approval for credit facilities totaling $1.3billion to support the Development Bank of Nigeria. As you know the Development Bank of Nigeria recently received its licence and is being funded by some long term loans from some of our development partners. So, the World Bank had given us $500million, repayable over 21 years and all of this is at concessional rate.
“The African Development Bank is giving us $450million and KFW is giving us $200 million and the French Development Agency is giving us $130million. To access this money, we are ready to disburse but there are two requirements that we need to make and one of them is the legal opinion by the Attorney General of the Federation and the other is the National Assembly approval.
“Before it goes to the National Assembly, it needs to be approved by FEC and the FEC simply approved it today that these loan requests should go to the National Assembly for approval so that we can access this money and the Development Bank of Nigeria can take off fully as it is expected to transform financing to our Micro and Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector.
“The council enthusiastically approved these facilities which are long tenured, meaning that the DBN will be able to lend to our SMEs over much longer periods and at much lower rates. So, the impact on the SMEs will be quiet considerable. She disclosed the World Bank loan has 21 years of repayment plan.
Adeosun also disclosed that FEC approved the procurement of project managers and verification consultants to bring 200,000 of the Nigerian military personnel aboard the interpreted personnel payroll information strategy (IPPIS) platform.
“We are hoping to bring in all the military by quarter three of 2017. We have assurances about the savings that we typically generate when we bring agencies on IPPIS. Generally, when we bring agencies onto IPPIS, the payroll goes down. Efforts to sanitise our payroll and make sure that the money we are spending on salaries is very accurate. So, bringing the military on board is a big step in that area,” she added.
Also briefing the press, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed that the federal government had ordered 2 million units of vaccines from Europe to fight meningitis that is currently ravaging 16 states of the federation. The minister said the units were besides the 826,000 units that are currently being shipped to Nigeria from Europe besides the 500,000 units currently being distributed across the country through the help World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said Centre for Disease Control, Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agency, World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and other parties had proactively been involved in the move to avert the epidemic.
According to him, there are currently 296 cases of meningitis in 16 states of the federation and 54 local governments with 336 fatalities out of which he said 141 have been confirmed by laboratory tests. He also said efforts being made to combat the disease include an ongoing social mobilisation against it, creation of two treatment centres in each local government as well as the deployment of field epidemiologists to carry out research on the disease.
The minister further explained that the outbreak of the disease was severe this year because Type A of the meningitis which used to be common had been eliminated while Type C of the disease which broke out this year had hitherto been rare.
Asked if the outbreak of the disease was not a mark of carelessness on the part of the government in view of earlier warning by the Nigeria Metrological Agency that heat would be severe this year, the minister said the rarity of the Type C over the years was the reason it took the government unaware and not a mark of failure on the part of the government.
“Yes, it is true there was a signal that this thing had started in Niger and was going to enter the country. Like I said before, it was the Type A that we have known that had worried us in the last years but the Type C came this time as a bit of a surprise because that wasn’t the pattern in the past.
“So, the preparedness for treatment was very much on ground but the preparedness for vaccines could not have been predicted until we begin to diagnose and do tests and discover that this is a different strand from what we had before and that the immunity you had before against Type A will not work against Type C. There is largely immunity against Type A in the country at the moment. If it had been Type A, we would not have seen an epidemic of this nature,” he said.