By Perpetua Onuegbu
Abuja, Nov. 5, 2020 The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said the ministry’s focus in the 2021 budget is the completion of some priority road projects, especially those on routes A1-A9.
Mr Fashola spoke during the 2021 budget defence of his ministry before the House of Representatives Committee on Works, on Thursday in Abuja.
Mrs Boade Akinola, Director, Press and Public Relations of the ministry, quoted the minister as telling the committee that the disparity between the liabilities in unpaid certificates and the budgetary provisions over the years, compel the ministry to prioritise its 2021 Capital Proposals in order to make appreciable impact.
“Given the wide disparity between the liabilities in unpaid certificates in the total sum of N392, 019, 827, 093.87k and the budgetary provisions over the years, it has become imperative that the ministry prioritised its 2021 Capital Proposals.
“In order to make appreciable impact within the period 2021-2023, that can be physically experienced by road users,” he said .
“Mr President had during the presentation of the 2021 budget proposals repeatedly emphasised the necessity to focus the budget on completion of projects.
“Therefore, the ministry has given priority first to 18 roads/bridges projects that have already attained some appreciable physical achievement for completion within a 12-15 month period by (December, 2021)”
Fashola stated that, among the prioritised road projects, are roads and bridges that lead to ports and major agricultural hubs across the six geo-political zones, pointing out that focus is also made on roads that attained 70 percent completion in order to achieve substantial completion levels.
In the same vein, the minister told the committee that the ministry had categorised the total of the 711 highway projects currently being undertaken over the six geo-political zones of the country according to funding mechanism.
He listed the funding mechanism as: projects financed with Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), Highway Projects financed with Sovereign Sukuk Fund, Highway Projects financed under Tax Credit and Highway Projects funded from Multilateral Loans.
Speaking on the other targets for 2021, the minister said “The ministry has selected two roads and a bridge per zone for enhanced funding in the 2021 budget to achieve appreciable progress on the projects.
“Also targeted for adequate funding is the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Counterpart Fund for the projects financed by the China Exim Bank.”
On the challenges, Fashola said “The major challenge to the ministry’s efforts towards the timely completion of projects is inadequate budgetary provision and releases for projects to sustain annual cash-flow requirement levels.”
He added that the additional funding from the PIDF and SUKUK Bond has helped to bring some form of funding relief in addition to the Tax Credit Scheme.
He, however, said that the ministry’s expenditures continue to increase as the roads age and deteriorate, requiring attention.