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Bayelsa to borrow N43.57bn to augment 2022 budget as current debt hits N169bn

The Bayelsa government plans to borrow N43.57 billion to augment the N310.7 billion proposed for the 2022 fiscal year as the state’s debt profile hits N169 billion.

The borrowing plan is contained in the 2022 Appropriation Bill of Bayelsa.

Checks on official records by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) indicate that the debt grew following the recent approval granted by the state house of Assembly to Gov Douye Diri to obtain an additional loan of N18.7 billion.

According to data obtained from the website of the Debt Management Office, Bayelsa’s debt profile as of June 2021 stood at over N150.60 billion, up from the N123 billion inherited on assumption of office in Feb. 2020.

On Oct 20, Diri presented the 2022 Appropriation Bill to the Bayelsa House of Assembly which subsequently sent it to its Committee on Appropriation for legislative action.

NAN learnt that the 2022 appropriation bill, currently under consideration by the Appropriation Committee of the house, puts the running cost of governance at N70.56 billion, some 22 per cent of the budget.

The state has set aside N61.75 billion for debt servicing and repayments.

Diri, in a letter to the assembly seeking the legislators’ consent for the borrowing plan, explained that the N18.7 billion loan “is a Federal Government bridging facility to cushion the effect of repayment of intervention facilities by the state government.”

The governor said the loan has a 30-year tenure and will enable the state government to meet its financial obligations.

It will be recalled that on October 6, the assembly approved Diri’s request to restructure existing loans obtained by the state government from commercial banks to free more resources for ongoing projects.

The approval was the second time in 16 months that the assembly would grant Diri’s request to renegotiate and restructure outstanding commercial bank loans following a similar approval in June 2020.

The N18.7 billion is the fourth in the series of loans that the Diri administration has taken following the nod of the 24-member house to collect since it was inaugurated on February 14, 2020.

Barely two weeks in office, in March 2020, the government took a loan of N2.9 billion to purchase cars for the governor and the deputy governor as well as for top government officials.

Also in November 2020, the government borrowed N17 billion from multiple sources and secured another N3.5 billion loan in December of the same year.

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