Senate puts Works Ministry’s debt profile at N392bn




Nigeria's Senate President, Ahmad Lawan

The Senate has said that in spite of the high budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Works and Housing, its current debt profile is about N392 billion.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, Sen. Adamu Aliero, made the revelation during the 2021 budget defence of the ministry held in the National Assembly Complex on Wednesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ministry got the highest projected allocation of N404 billion out of the N13.08 trillion 2021 budget estimates.

According to Aliero, the fact that the budgetary allocation to the ministry and its agencies remains one of the highest, it is like a drop of water in the ocean.

“This is because of the humongous work to be done on Nigerian roads and the current debt profile of the ministry which is about N392 billion.

“Like I say every time, government can no longer fund Nigerian roads alone.

“President Muhammadu Buhari in his 2021 budget speech said that ‘to bridge the infrastructure deficit, we are also implementing innovative financing strategies to pull in private sector investments.

“The infrastructure company, which if approved, will be a world-class infrastructure vehicle wholly focused on making critical infrastructural investments in Nigeria.”

According to the chairman, this effort of the government is a very welcome development which shows that the President’s thinking is in line with that of the committee.

“As a show of our preparedness, we had visited 17 states between January and March before the President announced the COVID-19 lock down.”

In his presentation, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said that the ministry owed contractors due to paucity of funds.

“We are owing the contractors, they are working just on trust because we do not have the resources that we need.

“I think that the time is upon us to act with purpose to say let us privatise what we want to do and cut our coat according to our clothe and not according to our size.

“And this is perhaps the time where your leadership (as chairman), will be useful to persuade your colleagues that no good will come out of new more roads until we can catch our breath.

“The Minister of Finance, essentially, is trying to provide water out of stone; raising money from the globally challenged financial community. I don’t know what more she can do.”

“In our 2021 proposal, we have 711 projects, the cost is N6.26 trillion. We have broken the 711 projects into different categories.

“The first category of roads is funded by the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF); those are Lagos-Ibadan, the Second Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road.

“The roads have major funding challenges, at least there is still some money that came from the recovered loot that will keep them going and the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) which manages that fund is trying to raise some more investments.

“The 44 roads under the SUKUK are a priority for us. They cover all the six zones, nobody can fairly say my zone is left out.

“From zonal connection we can facilitate state, senatorial, house of representatives to Local Government connections.”

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