By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
LAGOS – Buoyed by the need to actualise the 6,000 megawatts of power supply in the country promised by President Umaru Yar’Adua, the Federal Government has releasedÂ Â N67.48 billion for power projects across the country in the first, second and third quarters of the 2009 budget circle.
The releases are all cash- backed, according to the budget office in the Ministry of Finance.
The President, it was learnt, has directed the Ministry of Finance to accord priority to power projects in the release of capital projects funds.
As a result, the ministry released a total ofÂ Â N43,827,350,704.07 in the first and second quarters while in the third quarter a total ofÂ N23,656,052,503 has been released to be paid contractors handling the projects
The Minister of FinanceÂ Dr. Mansur Muhtar, had stated that there were a lot of public expectations from government on the Power Sector towards meeting the targeted 6,000MW by the end of this year.
He said it was on account of this that the sector was given priority in the allocation of resources in the 2009 budget.
The Minister spoke at a meeting between members of the Budget Implementation Committee and the Chief Operating Officers of the various Generation, (GENCOS), Transmission (TRANSCOS) and Distribution (DISCOS) companies within the Power Holding Company (PHCN).
Muhtar stated that, â€œmonitoring of capital projects would be a continuous process, especially at the ministerial level and Power remains one of the critical sectors needed to deliver on the promises made by the present administration.
To ensure the proper utilisation of the funds released so far, the Government has set up an inter-ministerial budget monitoring committee to ensure the speedy completion of all the ongoing power projects in the country.
The Committee, which has since started work, is chaired by Muhtar and has undertaken fact-finding mission to assess challenges and impediments to the successful execution of key capital projects in the 2009 budget, especially those relating to power generation, transmission and distribution. Other members of the committee include the Minister of Power, Mr. Lanre Babalola, FCT Minister, Senator Adamu Aliero.