By Olawale Ibrahim , Lokoja
Kogi State Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Ashiru Idris has said that the state has decided to borrow extra $100 million in order to fast track the social-economic development in the state.
The Commissioner stated this on Wednesday in Lokoja while briefing newsmen after the Executive meeting of the state government.
Idris also said there was no cause for alarm over the intended debt as the state is buoyant enough to sustain its present and expected debts.
He explained that the state has already paid a visit to the Senate to defend its need for the $100 million which when released will be channeled towards developing the Staple Crop Processing Zone, SCPZ in Alape, Kabba Bunu area of the state.
According to him, “The $100 million when accessed will be used to build roads, construct electricity and other social amenities within the Alape Crop Processing Zone.
“This will, in turn, make the place and the state accessible to investors to come in and do agricultural businesses; a development that will generate income and employment for the state.”
On whether the state can still borrow, Ashiru said, “Yes, we can still borrow. The fiscal sustainability of the state give rooms for borrowing. If the state debt has not gone beyond 250 per cent of his income then, it can still borrow. Kogi is presently on 147 per cent.
“Also, a state who is not using more than 40 per cent of his Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, to service loan can still borrow. Kogi is presently using only 28 per cent of its IGR to service loan. We still have a difference of 12 per cent to borrow.
“We are not borrowing for consumption. We are borrowing to build capital projects. This is in line with the state governor fight against insecurity. Because if you don’t provide food security then any fight against insecurity will be a mirage.”
The Commissioner for Finance also said the state government at the Executive meeting approved the creation of a new Department of International Cooperation to coordinate funds from World Bank, and other donor agencies.
He said all ministries have also be mandated to look inward and contribute to the economic development of the state in line with the fiscal discipline directive of the governor’s agenda.
Also speaking, the state commissioner for Information, Kingsley Fanwo said the state government has directed the security apparatus to put in measures that will ensure the security of life and properties.
He said the governor’s directive is on the sideline of the recent crisis in Aku village of Ankpa local government that led to the death of three and burning of many houses over chieftaincy tussles.
“The state has put in a rapt security strategy which may not be revealed now but is in place to stop any form of crises.
“The state has also set up an empowerment program for youths and women to address poverty in the state.”