The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Nigerian government has the capability to pay back loans collected for the construction of rail projects within the stipulated period of 20 years.
Amaechi, in a statement on Saturday, said China was the only country giving out loans with a low-interest rate of 2.8 per cent.
He said no country in the world would give out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.
“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the Ministry of Transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so, I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.
“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the Ministry of Finance.
“Whether it’s the Ministry of Finance that signed it or the Ministry of Transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.
“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.
“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.”
Amaechi said Nigeria is already repaying some of the loans it had taken, noting that out of a $500 million loan taken by the previous administration, the country had paid back $96 million.
“And the $500 million was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there.
“Nigeria has the capacity to pay back for the period of 20 years at 2.8 per cent, which country will give you that loan? Secondly, these loans are not given to us, they are paid directly to the contractors.
“Once they sign that the job has been done, they pay the contractors and that has never happened before and these projects are in place. Are they trying to rubbish the fact that there is a railway from Abuja-Kaduna? There is no loan in Nigeria, either internal or external that is not approved by the National Assembly, none.
“Chinese government will not even give you a loan without an approval by the National Assembly because if they give you a loan without the approval from NASS that is no loan,” Amaechi said.