Despite its involvement in over 500 roads, the Federal Government has said it is impossible to cover every nook and cranny of the country.
While Minister of Power, Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola reiterated the Federal Government ’s readiness to increase road construction in 2019, he regretted that prevailing realities were major hindrance.
Fashola spoke in Abuja yesterday at the 2018/2019 budget meeting with House of Representatives’ Committee on Works, where he noted that his ministry would not be able to provide road infrastructure for every part of the country.
Committee Chairman, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) said the ministry needed to pay more attention to fixing the nation’s roads for socio-ecomomc reasons.
In his response, Fashola said expanding the nation’s road infrastructure was a major focus of his ministry, which led to the Tax Credit Initiative for private companies.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed Tax Credit Initiative into an Executive Order.
“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, he said.
“Though the ministry is ready to redouble effort on road construction …funding has been the major impediment, Fashola added.
‘’No matter how passionate, how desirous we feel about doing much more, we must subscribe ourselves to the reality.
‘’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 private sector participation in funding road infrastructure provision was critical but the government had been able to find a way through it.
Noting that the initiative would boost government budgetary spending on roads, the minister said: “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 is not closed.
‘’But I want to say also that we must moderate expenditure and reality of those companies.”
On the Road Fund Bill, Fashola urged caution, noting that “the only issue I have with the bill is that we must be careful about applying percentages from fundraising initiatives; it may potentially create problem in future.
“We will 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.’’