- FG Releases N650bn for capital projects
- Saraki cautions against death penalty for hate speech
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed has disclosed that the country’s shares in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development had risen to $50.6million.
She made the disclosure Wednesday while briefing State House Correspondents concerning some of the decisions taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which was presided over by Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
This is coming as the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemi Saraki, has kicked against the Hate Speech Bill, which passed through first reading at the Senate.
The minister said an additional allocation of 3,000 shares was allocated to country, an offer which the country had accepted since March this year.
She said the new offers will substantially improve the country’s rating before global finance institutions.
The minister, who briefed reporters alongside the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemi Saraki, similarly said the federal government had released N650 billion for capital projects this year.
According to her, the amount released had surpassed the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari when he submitted the budget to the National Assembly, in October that N600 billion be released for capital expenditure.
She stressed that the target by the federal government is to be able to additional N250 billion to bring the total release to N900 billion by December.
The minister said given the limited resources, the highest proportion of the money disbursed is released to the Ministry of Power, the Ministry of Works and Housing and Ministry of Transport.
“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 percent but whenever we release funds for capital projects, the Ministry of Power, the Ministry of Works and Housing is always the priority and also the Ministry of Transport.”
She also said that government had also introduced some measures for more private sector participants’ improvement in road construction.
One of these measures is the Road Infrastructure Task Credit Scheme which Buhari approved by Executive Order early this year, and of which 17 companies are carrying out 19 roads across the six geo-political zones.
She also insists that majority of the roads in the country are within the purview and responsibility of states as well as local governments, adding that explains
why federal government is raising special funds to make sure that roads and such other infrastructure are being addressed.
Saraki also informed reporters that council had approved N1.7 billion for the construction of a jetty in Bonny Island, Rivers State. The project, she said, is to be completed in 15 months.
She also gave her view on the contentious Hate Speech Bill before the Senate.The bill sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi prescribes death by hanging for violators and is generating criticisms from across the country as it is viewed as attempt to curtail free speech .
But Saraki described the bill as jumping the gun and unnecessary as the existing Cybercrime Act (2015) is enough to handle the purveyors of hate speech on social media.
“It would amount to jumping the gun to make conclusions of the Hate Speech Bill because it is still a bill, not an Act. It is a bill, it is not yet law. So the sponsor of the bill might have put the death penalty there. I think we are jumping the gun a bit, he is proposing the bill is not yet an act. But be that as it may, I think the Cybercrime Act is a law already in Nigeria; the Cybercrime Act that has the hate speech aspect in it.
“I am not privileged to know the sponsor of the particular bill that you mentioned but there is a law, I stand to be corrected I think it was passed 2014/2015.
“I am not particularly sure but there is a law that takes care of (hate speech) because cybercrime is now a major issue and as your know internationally, the world over everybody is concerned about it being the new frontier to fight crime. So, hate speech is within that cybercrime aspect.” Saraki said.