By Lawrence Olaoye
The federal government has said that shortfall in projected revenue collection was responsible for its inability to executive roads, transport and other developmental projects across the country.
Briefing newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday, the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, also disclosed that the government target for capital budget release this year is N900 billion.
She equally disclosed that the Council approved an increase in government stakes in the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development to $50.6 million.
Asked why her ministry refused to release funds for the execution of road projects across the country as alleged by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the minister 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. It is true that we are not able to fund the budget 100% but whenever we release funds for capital projects, the Ministry of Works and Housing is always the priority and also the Ministry of Transport.
“Our fiscal space is tight; resources are limited because revenues are underperforming but at time we have resources, funds to release, the highest proportion goes to Power, Transport, Works and Housing. And also 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 Mr President approved by Executive Order early this year so far we have 17 companies that are carrying out 19 roads across the six geo-political zones.
“I also want to remind you that for the past two years, we have issued Sukkuk 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.
“We have a lot of roads in the country but not every road you see is a responsibility of the Federal government. 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.
“Have we done enough? No, not yet. That is why we are trying to do more including raising special funds to make sure that roads and such other infrastructure are being addressed,” she said.
Asked how much had been released so far for capital project in 2019 budget, Ahmed said “In October, when the President was submitting the budget to the National Assembly, he had indicated that he had given a directive that we should release N600 billion for capital expenditure, we have already done more than that, the target for us is to be able to release up to N900 billion by December but right now we are at about N650 billion capita release so far.”
On increase of government share in IBRD, she said “This afternoon, we presented a memo to the Federal Executive Council. The memo is on additional capital increase for Nigeria at the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development. Prior to now, Nigeria holds 16, 187 shares at the IBRB. During the last meeting of the World Bank Group, a capital increase was adopted in October 2016 and an additional allocation of 3, 230 shares was allocated to Nigeria, both for general capital increase as well as selected capital increase. The total value of these shares is in the sum of $50, 637, 747.60m. This additional subscription to the Bretton Woods institution by Nigeria is not just desirable but necessary. It will strengthen the country’s position and enhance our voice in the global financial architecture. “