Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, yesterday called for legislative support to facilitate a $10 billion infrastructural bond to be set aside to cater for infrastructural deficit and sustain Nigeria’s development in the coming years.
The minister who made the call yesterday while addressing members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Works during the defence of his ministry’s 2018 budget performance and 2019 budget proposal, said rather than depending on annul budgetary allocations to develop critical infrastructure, such funds could be applied to rail, road, airport, seaports and others areas.
Fashola, who got commendations from members of the House of Representatives’ Committee for Works over his performance, said government is constrained to operate within budgetary approvals, noting that it is in the bid to improve the ministry’s performance that it is relying on the Sukuk Bond, which he said government cannot alter the agreement.
According to him, “I wish to see Nigeria launch a $10 billion infrastructure bond. If such is created, we can draw from it without resorting to the annual budget, but of course it has to be done with legislative backing to solve our problems once and for all. If we have such consensus it can be applied to rails, road, airports and other infrastructure,” he said.
The committee chairman, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), who also acknowledged that the minister has done considerably well in the light of inadequate cash flow from budgetary allocations, called for more funding for the ministry.
“It is important to note that the minister concluded and the committee alluded, the major problem is funding. It is my position that annual appropriation be interventionist in nature. The funding should be from tolls.”
However, Fashola expressed optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari is favourably disposed to signing the Road Infrastructure Fund Bill, once the provisions are not in conflict with existing laws governing the sector.
Okechukwu, however, mandated the minister to inform the committee on how the 2019 budget can capture road maintenance so that roads don’t fail as seen in most cases.