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Seek alternative funding for roads, Reps tell FG

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Monday, February 8th, 2016
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The House of Representatives is disturbed over the paltry budgetary allocations to works, power and housing in the 2016 budget and has called for alternative funding options for road infrastructure in particular.

The Chairman, House Committee on Works, Mr. Toby Okechukwu, told The PUNCH on Sunday that options, including Public Private Partnership, must be vigorously pursued amid the dwindling statutory funding.

In the 2016 total budget of N6.07tn, the sum of N433.4bn was allocated to works, power and housing, three major areas known to gulp huge funds.

Incidentally, findings indicate that accumulated debts in generated certificates for the road sub-sector alone stand in excess of N300bn.

This implies that the amount that may be the share of the road sector from the N433.4bn will not be enough to settle outstanding liabilities to contractors.

“We have a huge challenge in funding infrastructure, which has to be addressed.

“We must seek for options, including bankable options,” Okechukwu stated.

However, he said it was better to have a paltry allocation than no allocation.

Okechukwu added that the Committee on Works would meet with the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Tuesday (tomorrow) to discuss the details of the 2016 budget as they affected these critical sectors.

“We are meeting with the minister on Tuesday, and I cannot say much now until after the session with him.

“We are starting with something at least, which is still better than nothing,” he told The PUNCH.

While the Minister of Works, Power and Housing has N433.4bn, the Ministry of Defence has almost N300bn, besides the N145.2bn allocated to the Ministry of Interior.

Similarly, the Special Duties Office has N72.8bn, while the National Security Adviser will spend N57.7bn this year.

The Ministry of Information has an allocation of N39.1bn; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N45.3bn; and Aso Rock Clinic, N3.87bn.

Last week, the House Committee on Appropriation hinted that all standing committees working on the budget had been advised to re-distribute allocations to areas that might require more funds.

According to the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, the House will retain the budget size of N6.07tn, but will re-work the details.

“The budget size (N6.07tn) will be retained. We have advised the committees to stick to the envelopes of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

“But the committees can move the money across the details of the budget to reflect areas of need,” he said.

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