Buhari inherits over N1trn road debt constructed by states ― Fashola
while BPP certifies about N454bn as FG targets private sector on tax-credit incentive
Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on Tuesday disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari inherited debts worth about N1 trillion from the federal roads constructed by various State Governments under the past administration.
Mr. Fashola disclosed this during an investigative hearing held at the instance of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on abandoned road projects from 1999 till date, chaired by Hon. Francis Uduyok.
He explained that the federal roads constitute about 18 per cent of the national road network, worth about 200,000 kilometres, while the remaining 16 per cent belongs to the states and 64 percent belongs to the 774 Local Governments.
Fashola said: “What has happened to states now, that’s another thing. The states submitted a bill of almost a trillion naira when President Buhari was elected, and he (Buhari) asked us to work out what was their entitlements and all of that.
“Ultimately BPP cetified about N454 billion, I don’t remember the exact amount now. Except for two states, I think Cross River and there’s another state, they didn’t have the documents at the time, which we have sent back to the President.
“But the decision to pay those inherited debts, including the ones I contracted as Governor in Lagos, was with the caveat that to tell the State Governments to leave his roads alone. Those were the directives, I was not the one that took the decision on that!
“He (Buhari) said ‘tell them not to fix my roads again if they’re going to claim compensation. If you want to fix it and not ask for compensation, send me what you want to do. But if you want compensation, go and mind your business while I mind my business, because I inherited enough debts!'”
According to him: “the amount of debts I inherited is more than the budget of the Ministry. So that’s the reality. So if you will give us a budget of that amount in addition to the budget to do our work, then there is no problem,” he told the lawmakers.
He, however, assured that the Ministry is looking towards raising capital from the organised private sector such as SUKUK and Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund initiated by Buhari’s administration targeted at certain projects including the Second Niger Bridge, East West road, Lagos-Ibadan- Abuja-Kano rail projects and Mambilla Power project.
He added that the SUKUK fund was targeted at about 28 roads out of 472 federal road projects, adding that the administration can only do that much.
Fashola also unveiled plans for the implementation of tax-credit for construction of over 20 federal roads which is still under consideration, adding that beneficiaries of such initiative are to “net their taxes in advance to the government and claim it back.
“But for you to net your tax in advance, it means, first your company must declare it. Because the company must declare its income that is taxable. It is from the profit that we tax about 30 percent.”
According to him, the number of companies that declare about N10 billion apart from banks, adding that the “big players” in such category like Dangote are committed to the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworoosoki road which costs about N73 billion.
While responding to question on the 472 road projects listed by the Ministry, the Minister said that the incessant demands by lawmakers were partly responsible for the high number of projects in the Ministry and conversely, continuous budget cuts were responsible for the abandoned projects.
The Minister said that there must be stoppage of new projects to allow for the completion of old project.
He said consensus and sacrifice are necessary for development “because our money is not enough for what we want to build,” he stressed.
In their various interventions, the lawmakers expressed concerns over the Warri-Benin expressway in Delta State.
They also stressed the need for collaboration between Federal and State Governments in the bid to fix the roads.
The lawmakers however tasked Federal Government on the need to offset the backing of the money expended by State Governments since 1999 through annual budgetary allocations for the benefits of Nigerians.
In his response, Fashola said: “I do not foreclose collaboration. I also understand the need to intervene and collaborate but the point that I need to make is that first of all if we are building roads to connect states, that shows that we want to collaborate. So the mechanism for funding them is quite another thing,” he stressed.
He maintained that Federal Government at no given time stopped Delta State from working on Warri-Benin road, adding that plans are underway to cover major roads before the end of the year.