The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Works for the 2019 Budget Defence in Abuja.
During the defence, the minister reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to fixing the nation’s roads.
He said, “If you look at the list of road projects under management, it is over 500.
“We can’t reach everybody at the same time but I assure you, it will get to every part of the country; one after the other.”
Fashola however mentioned that although the ministry was ready to redouble efforts on road construction across the country, funding has been the major impediment.
‘‘No matter how passionate, how desirous we feel about doing much more, we must subscribe ourselves to the reality.
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“The national budgetary plans are set out by the Budget Ministry and we see it in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which is also submitted to parliament.
“This stipulates how much we can spend, how much we expect to receive unless we want to have unworkable budget by appropriating higher than what our fiscal realities dictate,” he said.
He said his ministry, in its efforts at expanding its budgetary spending on roads, recommended the task credit initiative for private sector companies to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, the president has approved it. ‘‘The idea is to advance their taxes to government for infrastructure and use it to build roads. Mr President recently signed an Executive Order to support that.
‘‘And that leads to what we are saying about raising capital. The opportunities for more capital from stock market, private sector into our road funding are not closed.
‘‘But I want to say also that we must moderate expenditure and reality of those companies,” the minister said.
Fashola urged the National Assembly to expedite work on the Road Fund Bill, which he said the ministry was involved in its drafting.
He further advised that care be taken in applying percentages from fundraising initiatives, as it may create problems in future.
“I would love to see Nigeria launch maybe N10 trillion infrastructure bond, once and for all, with legislative approval, or even more.
“We can then draw down on that fund, go to the Capital Market year after year to issue bond to support rail, power, roads, bridges, airports, etc; once we have consensus about our national infrastructure,” he remarked.
A member of the committee, Rep Sunday Karimi (PDP-Kogi), commended the minister and his team on the efforts at changing the face of the nation’s roads for better.
According to him, a lot of Nigerians when you were appointed the Minister of Power, Works and Housing thought a miracle will just happen; that all the roads in Nigeria will be fixed because of your achievements in Lagos.”