The National Assembly will on Tuesday (today) resume from its Christmas and New Year break to attend to pending issues of national interest, one of which is the request by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for restructuring of Ways and Means Advances from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
On December 28, 2022, the National Assembly passed the 2023 Appropriation Bill, the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill 2022 and embarked on the break.
A few days earlier, Buhari had requested the Senate and the House of Representatives to approve the restructuring of the WMAs given to the Federal Government by the CBN, noting that the balance, as of December 19, 2022, was N23,719,703,774,306.90.
While the House has yet to consider the presidential request, it suffered a setback at the Senate on December 28, 2022, after the chamber gave it accelerated processing.
Buhari later warned that the country would pay N1.8tn additional interest this year if the National Assembly rejected a loan-to-bond swap request on the CBN overdrafts to the government.
The PUNCH recently reported that the Federal Government paid interests of N4.12tn between 2019 and 2022 on the loans it got from the CBN through Ways and Means Advances, according to data from the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Papers and the public presentation documents of the approved budgets by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
However, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had also at least twice after the Senate rejection said the lawmakers would revisit the domestic borrowing.
However, there are indications that the presidential request may suffer a similar fate at the House, as some members who spoke to our correspondent are divided over it.
Some members of the House stated that the domestic borrowing not only breached the CBN Act but also the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Others, however, argued that the government must borrow to make life easier for the people.
Another member from Delta State, Nicholas Ossai, recalled how he was ruled out of order when he rose to speak about the growing debt profile of the country under the current regime. He, however, noted that the government had no choice but to take loans to address emergency issues affecting the people.