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SERAP tells World Bank to Suspend $800m loan to FG

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the World Bank President, Mr David Malpass, to suspend any disbursement of $800m loan to the Federal Government of Nigeria and ask the incoming administration to provide satisfactory explanations before the loan should be disbursed.

The Federal Government headed by Muhammadu Buhari in April announced its plan to spend the $800 million loan from the World Bank as ‘part of its subsidy palliatives measures’ and, last week, President Buhari requested the Senate’s approval for the World Bank loan.

However, in a new letter dated 13 May 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization urged Mr Malpass to reopen a discussion on the reportedly approved $800m loan with the incoming administration to clarify the details on the rationale and use of the loan because the term of office of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari ends in May 2023.

The letter reads;”The World Bank should comply with its own Articles of Agreement in disbursing any loans. The Bank should not sacrifice international standards in the rush to disburse the $800m loan to the government.”

“Suspending any disbursement of the loan to the government would reduce the risks and vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”

“SERAP is concerned that the government is seeking to spend the loan when it has barely two weeks to leave office and when the project objectives and intended purposes for which the loan is reportedly approved and will be disbursed remain unclear.

The government has not satisfactorily explained or justified the need for the loan at this time, especially given the lack of clarity on its use and the crippling debt burden, and the disproportionately negative impact of these retrogressive measures on poor Nigerians.”

“The World Bank cannot close its eyes to this important transparency, accountability and human rights issues.”

“The National Economic Council on April 27 reportedly suspended the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the end of the Buhari administration.”

“We would consider the option of pursuing legal action should the World Bank refuse to suspend the disbursement of the loan to the Federal Government and to implement the other recommendations contained in this letter, and we may join the government in any such suit.”

“The crippling debt burden is a human rights issue because when the entire country is burdened by unsustainable debts, there will be little money left to ensure access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to legally enforceable socio-economic rights.”

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