OrderPaperToday- The Senate Committee on Finance has invited the Central Bank of Nigeria over increased exchange rates used in three projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund(PIDF).
The projects, which run into billions of naira, are funded by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority(NSIA).
The PIDF was earmarked from dollar denominated Sovereign Wealth Fund to partly fund the Lagos –Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge, Abuja –Kano Expressway, East-West Road and Mambilla Hydro Project with the first three projects already funded to the tune of N163.8 billion.
This was contained in a statement released on Sunday by Kayode Odunaro, Media Adviser to the Chairman of the committee, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West).
The invitation was sequel to a meeting between the Senate Committee and the Managing Director of NSIA, Uche Orji and his management team which held over the weekend.
Orji disclosed to the committee that the contracts for the projects were denominated in naira, while CBN’s exchange rate for the disbursed fund was N325 to a dollar instead of the official rate of N305.
In reaction to the disclosure, Sen. Adeola said, “This committee will like to see the contract documents for these projects and why the exchange rate for the dollar to naira was at N325 to a dollar instead of the official rate of N305 in a government to government transaction for these key infrastructure projects. We are not indicting NSIA or conducting an investigation or probe of CBN but we will like to know the reason why this different rate was used.”
The chairman commended the NSIA for what it has done so far in terms of funding healthcare, education, infrastructure and investment in fertilizer production but called for caution and more investment in diverse areas to grow the $1.5 billion Sovereign Wealth for its contributors – the Federal Government, State Governments, Local Governments and FCT – to reap the benefits of its establishment.
Senator Ayo Akinyelure( PDP, Ondo Central), a member of the committee, also expressed fears that the NSIA may have been shortchanged in the transactions.
According to the statement, Akinyelure noted that the rates may explain the seeming slow progress, delay and non completion of these key projects as some aspects will be based on import of materials which are denominated in dollars purchased at higher BDC rates.
Meanwhile, Orji had earlier told the committee that since operations in third quarter of 2013, which the agency commenced with $1billion, it has invested in critical sectors like healthcare, presidential fertilizer initiative, education, real estate and international financial instruments.
In 2018, the Federal Government injected $650 million for the PIDF from which N163.8billion has so far been disbursed for the three projects from approved N672.4billion earmarked.
NSIA and CBN are to appear before the committee on Monday.