Public agitations against rising foreign debts have put pressure on the Federal Government to ensure prudent utilisation of foreign loans, even as it has set up a task force on disbursement on Donor-Funded Projects.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said this while addressing members of the federal legislature at a retreat in Lagos, yesterday.
Her words: “It is public knowledge that there have been increased public agitations against rising foreign debts levels. This has put immense pressure on government to ensure prudent management of resources, improve transparency and accountability in the utilization of funds from donor agencies for maximum positive impact on the economy.”
She said donor financing, especially from multilateral bodies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, was one of the critical sources of funds for the execution of key projects in the country, and noted that the nation was not receiving the best from the implementation of donor financed projects.
She stated: “Notwithstanding the efforts and resources committed in procuring development financing for critical sectors of the economy to boost human capital development, improve infrastructure and service delivery as well as strengthen governance and institutions, the country appears not to have made the desired progress in this direction. Much still remains to be streamlined.
“It is important to mention that when borrowed funds fail to be properly utilised, and to deliver on planned development objectives, growth is impaired and economic development is distorted.
“An in-depth review of the level of implementation of the entire development projects reveals that delays in the execution of donor-funded projects stems from factors including bureaucratic bottlenecks, capacity challenges, political interference and challenges associated with obtaining varied and misaligned approvals processes between our local authorities and development partners.
“Accordingly, Nigeria ranks low compared to other nations of the world in terms of the level of implementation of World Bank funded projects.”
Task force on donor-funded projects
The minister announced a task force on disbursement, in Donor-Funded Projects in Nigeria, to quicken the implementation of such projects.
According to her, “the Term of Reference (ToR) of the task force is to evaluate, review and chart a fresh course to significantly increase disbursement levels in donor-financed projects in the country.
“It is to also work with relevant stakeholders to facilitate various approval processes for donor-assisted projects before final approval from the National Assembly.”