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Fashola defends budget before Reps., reaffirms commitment to fixing roads

Mr Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, on Monday, reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to fixing the nation’s roads.

Fashola made the commitment when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Works for the 2019 Budget Defence in Abuja.

“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.


He said though 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.

‘‘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.

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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.

According to him, the only issue I have with the bill is that we must be careful about applying percentages from fund raising initiatives; 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.

”And I am sure you would have loved to achieve more than you have done today if not for funding challenge. We cannot do without funding,” he said.

Rep Toby Okechukwu (PDP-Enugu), who is the Chairman, House Committee on Works, urged the minister to redouble efforts on fixing the nation’s roads.

Okechukwu said the legislature would be ready to work with the minister to ensuring that the appropriation bill accommodated other needs of the ministry as a result of the Disability Bill recently signed into law by the President.

‘‘Since the Disability Bill which Mr President signed into law came after he has submitted the budget as well as the framework for maintenance, if there are some areas we can work on and retool together to make sure that some of those things take off immediately, we will like to have that,” he said.

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