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Economic experts seek increased capital allocation to infrastructure

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Big trouble, as more Nigerians sink deeper into poverty
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By Nkiruka Nnorom

Economic experts have renewed calls for increased capital allocation for infrastructure projects in the economy.

The experts, who include Mr Mobolaji Balogun, Chief Executive Officer, Chapel Hill Denham, and Mr Bismarck Rewane, Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company, FDC, made the call at the Lafarge Africa Plc inaugural ‘Concrete Ideas’ webinar series themed, “Public-Private Partnership Approaches to Rapidly Upscaling Nigeria’s Economic Infrastructure”.

They maintained that injection of more funds would help the country achieve the right level of development, stressing that the implementation of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) across areas like infrastructure must be strategic and innovative.

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, recently said that the federal government would require about N36 trillion (US$100 billion) annually for the next 30 years to effectively tackle Nigeria’s infrastructure challenges.

According to IMF, Nigeria’s infrastructure stock of about 25% of GDP remains far below the 70% international benchmark.

Speaking, Balogun indicated the need for the government to increase budgetary allocation for infrastructure development by at least 20 percent. He also emphasised the need for the government to leverage the capital market to tackle the infrastructure challenges in the country.

“We have to be increasing our infrastructural spend probably by 20 percent per year. This will enable us achieve the right level of development. All the solutions to Nigeria’s infrastructure problems are available in our financial markets. We should emulate other countries on how to tap more opportunities from the capital market,” he added.

Bismarck Rewane noted that about 60 percent of the nation’s grounded infrastructure were uncompleted projects.

He cited the example of the Epe-Lekki Expressway, which he said commenced some years ago, but still remained incomplete despite the toll fees being collected.

Also speaking, Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, said there is the need to go back to the practice in the 70s when a sizable proportion of the GDP was invested in infrastructure.

“Nigeria did not have an infrastructure gap because there is something wrong with us; we have an infrastructure gap because we stopped investing in infrastructure like our competitor amidst population growth.

“It was in the early 70’s that infrastructure received massive funding across the nation. We must go back to those days. The present administration is trying to revive the system.”

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