FG releases N650bn for capital projects amid furore over bad roads
The capital release is 22.2 per cent of the N2.9 trillion aggregate capital expenditure allocated in the 2019 budget.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed on Wednesday that the federal government has so far released N650 billion for capital projects in the 2019 budget. The capital release is 22.2 per cent of the N2.9 trillion aggregate capital expenditure allocated in the 2019 budget.
While speaking to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which held yesterday and presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the minister also disclosed the government's target to increase the capital expenditure by N250 billion to bring the total release to N900 billion by December.
Ahmed said the Ministry of Works and Housing was a major beneficiary of the fund releases, apparently responding to a statement by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who had said poor funding was the reason road projects were not executed at a faster pace.
“It is true that we are not able to fund the budget 100 per cent, but whenever we release funds for capital projects, the Ministry of Power, the Ministry of Works and Housing are always the priority and the Ministry of Transportation,” Ahmed stated.
Also emphasizing the priority given to roads, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said, “It gives me an opportunity to state that the Minister of Works and Housing has a proposed budget of N247 billion for the year 2020 and the greatest component of this budget is the fixing of Nigerian roads.”
The minister also spoke to journalists about the fiscal challenges of the administration. To address the shortfall in revenue, Ahmed said the government had introduced public-private partnership (PPP) measures, which have seen some participation by the private sector, in road construction.
“We have introduced some measures that have seen private sector participants getting involved in road construction. One of these measures is the Road Infrastructure Task Credit Scheme that President approved by Executive Order early this year. So far, we have 17 companies that are carrying out 19 roads (projects) across the six geo-political zones,” Ahmed said in her remarks.
The minister also spoke about the Sukuk bonds, the Islamic finance instruments, which the government initiated in 2017. The second N100 billion Sukuk bond was listed earlier this year by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and FMDQ OTC Securities platforms.
“I also want to remind you that for the past two years, we have issued Sukuk bonds. In 2017, it was for the construction of 25 roads. In 2018, 23 roads and there is also another one that is being processed,’ she said.
Ahmed also pushed back on the statements that were made to the effect that most of the bad roads in the country were federal roads. She disagreed, stating the majority of bad roads were within the purview of the respective state governments.
“We have a lot of roads in the country but not every road you see is the responsibility of the Federal Government,” Ahmed said. “The major arterial roads are the ones that are the responsibility of the Federal Government. Majority of the roads in the country are within the purview and responsibility of states as well as local governments.”
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