Fashola: Poor Budgetary Allocation Hampering Infrastructure Devt

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By Raheem Akingbolu

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said the slowdown in infrastructure development remains the major drawback for Nigeria in the last forty years.

The minister who was the special guest of honour at the Lafarge Africa Plc inaugural Concrete Ideas webinar series with the theme: “Public-Private Partnership Approaches to Rapidly Upscaling Nigeria’s Economic Infrastructure,” pointed out that the major difference between the country and other developed nations was the priority given to capital expenditure compared to recurrent expenditure.

While restating that the federal government was commitment toward infrastructure development to enhance economic growth, he attributed the country’s infrastructure gap to slow down in infrastructure investments when compared with what was obtainable in the 70s.

The Concrete Ideas webinar is a quarterly platform that assembles both national and international stakeholders to discuss strategic and topical issues in the area of construction and other sections of its value chain.

Speaking on the determination of the current administration to address the country’s perennial infrastructure deficit, the minister said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was committed to renew, rebuild and build Nigeria’s infrastructure.

“There is nothing wrong with Nigeria, Nigeria did not have an infrastructure gap, it happened because Nigeria stopped investing in infrastructure like its competitors,” Fashola said.

He said the country’s population had been growing in spite of drop in infrastructure development.

According to him, the country needs to invest a sizeable proportion of the Gross Domestic Product in infrastructure to match its population.

He said government would continue to promote Public Private Participation (PPP) in infrastructure financing and development.

“PPP has continual place in government’s developmental and finance strategy,” Fashola said.
The minister, however said government’s priority at the moment is to ensure the survival of the private sector.

He explained that there was no abundance of capital in the world ready to be invested because of coronavirus pandemic.

Fashola said the COVID-19 pandemic had affected private sector capital and investment, adding that Nigeria needed to borrow to finance infrastructure.

“Most part of the world is in recession or in survival mood due to COVID-19. Governments are trying to save their private sector across the world and Nigeria is not exempted. If we don’t defeat the virus, we will not have the type of economy we want,” he said.

He noted that government had introduced various reliefs in order to keep the private sector moving.

Head, Middle East Africa LafargeHolcium, Mr. Miljan Gutovic, said Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa needed infrastructure for growth and development.

Gutovic said the company had been involved in PPP across the world, noting that infrastructure creates economic activities for citizens.

He disclosed that private sector invested about $100 million in infrastructure in Africa and Middle East in 2019.

Gutovic called for a legal framework that would support PPP investments Nigeria.
The Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, said leakages in the country should be sealed.

Rewane stressed the need for completion of ongoing projects for the country to move forward.

He added that idle, stranded assets and uncompleted projects should be sold to the private sector for economic growth and development. Rewane said the private sector would deploy capital where they can make profit, stressing the need for the right pricing mechanism.

Also speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Denham, Mr. Bolaji Balogun, said Nigeria needs to increase infrastructure spending by 20 per cent yearly to tackle infrastructure deficit Balogun said government should not depend solely on PPP for infrastructure financing. He said that government should access the capital market for infrastructure financing and development.