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Senate Approves $1.806b Chinese Loan for Rail Projects

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  • Senate Approves $1.806b Chinese Loan for Rail Projects

The Senate yesterday approved part of the 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan pertaining to the Lagos, Kano railway modernisation project (Lagos-Ibadan segment double track).

The upper chamber also endorsed the World Bank-supported reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Northeast at $1.806 billion.

This followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on the proposed Federal Government 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan presented by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Shehu Sani.

Sani, in his report, noted that the committee resolved to consider the project due to its importance and urgency to fast track the development of critical infrastructure.

The committee received briefs from Ministers of Transportation and Finance, Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Chairman, Fiscal Responsibility Commission and Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation.

The projects to be financed by the China Exim Bank include Lagos-Kano Railway Modernisation (Lagos-Ibadan segment); Lagos-Kano Railway modernisation project (Kano-Kaduna segment) and Coastal Railway (Lagos-Calabar segment).

On the World Bank-supported projects, Sani listed polio eradication and routine immunisation, Community and Social Development project and Nigeria States Health programme investment.

Apart from approving the loan request, the committee’s recommendations adopted by the Senate included that the: immediate negotiation for the Eastern corridor (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) and same submitted for approval by the National Assembly; and that the committee “do recommend for approval by the Senate the remaining segments of the Rail modernisation project as soon as these are approved by the Board of China-Exim Bank, namely (Lagos-Calabar segment) and the Port Harcourt Maiduguri line (the Eastern corridor rail project)”.

The committee also recommended that the Senate “do emphasize effective oversight by relevant committees on the implementation of all the projects for which the loans is being approved.”

It said that the projects, when fully implemented were sure to stimulate economic development and create both direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians, particularly youth.

On the World Bank supported loan, the committee said that the projects, which are mainly proposed for the Northeast region, will facilitate the much needed rehabilitation of the people and allow schools to be reopened.

The Senate also approved a $750 million Islamic Bank loan request by some states. These are: Enugu, Ebonyi, Kano, and Ondo states.

Ebonyi’s $80 million loan request was earlier rejected but following strident pleadings by Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central) the upper chamber made a U-turn to approve the request.

The Senate also approved the $750 million medium term external loan requests for six states, out of the Federal Government’s request of $1.49billion for 10 states.

The states whose loan requests were approved are Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kano, Ondo and Plateau.

The committee said there was a need for phased approval of the loan requests for the other states which are: Ogun, Jigawa, Kaduna and Katsina.

A breakdown of the approved loans are $70 million from African Development Bank (ADB) for Ebonyi Ring Road Project (to be co-financed by Islamic Development Bank), $200 million ADB facility for Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) in Abia State, and $200 million IDB loan for Kano State Integrated Agricultural and Water Resources Development.

It also approved a $100 million request for Enugu and Kano from the French Development Agency for the third National Urban Water Sector Reform (NUWSRP-III).

“That the remaining four states in the borrowing plan be deferred,” the report read.

The railway project, which includes the Lagos-Ibadan segment double track is to be funded by China Export-Import Bank for $1.231 billion, while the Northeast rehabilitation is to be funded by the World Bank for $575 million.

The terms of the China EXIM bank loan include a maturity enure of 20 years with a moratorium of seven years at interest rate of 2.5 per cent. It also includes a management fee of 0.5 per cent, a commitment fee of 0.2 per cent, and a duration of three years.

The committee in its report observed that the railway project would link the North to the South by rail and promote trade, create jobs and also reduce pressure in roads infrastructure.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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