China-Exim To Finance Lagos, Kano, Calabar Railway Projects – Osinbajo

VP Yemi OsinbajoThe China-Exim bank has agreed to fund Nigeria’s railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said Tuesday.

Osinbajo, a Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, added that the federal government’s plan to raise a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund from the global community and establish long term bankable projects, is gaining traction.

“We have seen considerable, favourable interests from some sovereign wealth funds and other nations”, the vice president told a delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry when they paid him a courtesy visit in his office on Tuesday.

Explaining the idea of the fund to the delegation, Mr. Osinbajo said the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which manages the country’s sovereign wealth fund is leading the project, adding that the Infrastructural Fund would create opportunity for commercial partners to participate in the building of the nation’s infrastructures alongside the federal government.

“This would be done through the establishment of bankable projects that involves such commercial partners”, he said.

On the benefits of the China-Exim Bank’s decision to finance the railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar, he said “we expect these will generate some economic activities and create jobs”.

Vice President Osinbajo reassured the federal government’s determination to raise revenue internally to fund the budget including through an expansion of VAT coverage but not an increase of the VAT rate.

“At 20% of the VAT coverage now, the federal government intends to do much better giving a boost to the country’s tax revenues”, he said.

The delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was led by Nike Akande, who declared the support of the chamber for the federal government’s fight against corruption and acknowledged that in the current economic situation that the Buhari presidency is having to deal with, “there are no easy choices”.

Mrs. Akande, a former minister for Industry, however, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to find a foreign exchange regime that would boost the confidence of investors and remove uncertainty.

The vice president told the delegation that the federal government was focused on finding solutions to the economic situation, including through a focus on building infrastructure and also diversifying the economy, especially through agriculture. Besides, the government is also focussing on creating an enabling environment for business and investments in the country.

Mr. Osinbajo also received a delegation from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, ALTON.

He praised the telecom operators stating that “there is no question at all about the importance and contribution of the sector especially since the 2001 privatization”.

He noted that the telecom sector is one of the sectors in the economy that has created a significant impact.

He reiterated federal government’s resolve to develop critical infrastructure in the country including in the power sector, which was an area of concern expressed by the operators at the meeting.

Earlier the Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, presented an industry report to the vice president entitled “The Socio-Economic Impact of Telecoms in Nigeria”.

Mr. Adebayo also expressed the concern of telecom operators regarding “multiple taxes” and some of their equipment destroyed by insurgents in the Northeast.