FG Offsets 62 Contractors’ Debt With N47.169bn, Says Fashola

  •  Says N269.27bn Has Been Released For His Ministry From 2017 Budget
By ‘Dotun Akintomide
To reduce the debt owed contractors, federal government in 2017 has paid out N47.169bn to 62 Contractors handling infrastructural projects in the country, the honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has said.
The minister said the debt was inherited by the incumbent administration on its assumption of power in 2015.
Fashola who made the disclosure on Friday in Lagos at a Road Construction Summit organized by Lafarge Africa Plc in collaboration with Business Day said the payment has led to the return to construction sites by many companies which had hitherto moved out due to paucity of funds occasioned by economic recession.
Speaking further on the performance of 2016 budget, Fashola noted that with the payment of 103 construction companies from the 2016 budgeted sum for the ministry, the construction sector has directly engaged 17,749 workers working at various sites across Nigeria.
According to the figures reeled out by the minister, the 52,000 contractors engaged by the federal government in 2016, as well as the traction witnessed at the solid minerals sector explained the reason why the nation exited recession, albeit with a minimal margin.
He equally disclosed that N269.27bn has been released to embark on capital projects, out of the N422bn approved for his ministry in the running 2017 budget, which according to him was a clear departure from N24bn budgeted for his ministry in 2016.
However, Fashola cautioned that “in spite of the cheering news, hope has not been totally restored to the common man.” He averred that the narrative must be felt by the people at the lower end of the ladder before government can ease a sigh of relief.
Expressing hope and confidence in the job opportunities that could be created by his ministry across value chains, Fashola said the funds released will begin to have a multiplier effect on the economy as more contractors continue to return to construction sites.
However, the Chairman, House Committee on Works, Hon. Toby Okechukwu while speaking with The New Diplomat at the summit called on government to jack up spendings on road and other infrastructures across Nigeria to bolster the economy.
“With over N200bn appropriated for roads in 2017 budget, it’s just about 50% of what Zambia spends on road annually,” he said.

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