Don’t tamper with our budget, Aviation Minister pleads with Senate
• Restates plan to concession airports
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has urged the National Assembly not to tamper with the budgetary provisions for the agencies under his supervision. He declared that such move under the guise to cut cost was inimical to the survival of the aviation industry. Honourable Sirika made the submission on Monday while fielding questions from members […]
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has urged the National Assembly not to tamper with the budgetary provisions for the agencies under his supervision.
He declared that such move under the guise to cut cost was inimical to the survival of the aviation industry.
Honourable Sirika made the submission on Monday while fielding questions from members of the Joint Senate Committee on Finance and Planning.
The joint committee which has Senators Solomon Olamilekan Adeola and Olubunmi Adetunmbi as chairman and co-chairman, respectively commenced public hearing on the 2021-23 Medium Term Expenditure Framework /Fiscal Strategy Paper, last Tuesday.
The Aviation Minister plea was a sequel to the observation of Senator Adeola who claimed that some of the agencies in the Aviation Ministry were unwieldy and needed to be streamlined.
The Senator representing Lagos West said allocation to such agencies would be channelled to the national budget.
The Aviation Minister faulted the suggestion as he said denying the sector needed fund could undermine its growth. He declared that Aviation was the second-fastest-growing sector after the telecommunication industry but expressed regret that the pandemic, COVID-19 has since slowed down its pace.
He said: “On the question regarding challenging times and whether the overhead of the agencies could be mopped up to fund the national budget, I don’t think so. I don’t think so because of the nature of both the Ministry and its agencies and what is facing us.
“Take for example the COVID-19, we are the greatest hit sector. At the time when we came and in order to implement our agenda, which is called the aviation road map, when we began to implement it we slowly became the second-fastest-growing sector. Within the three years of implementation of that roadmap, we became in 2018, the second-fastest-growing sector of the Nigerian economy and just before COVID-19, we became the fastest growing sector in the Nigerian economy.
“But unfortunately, COVID came and we shut down. We are not in the business of selling phones that we can still sell and get the required revenue. The revenue for yesterday is lost.
Therefore, we were hugely impacted by the COVID and with this COVID-19, I think until quarter four of 2021 and perhaps quarter one of 2022, we will continue to see a sharp decline in passengers and that is directly proportional to the revenue that we collect because people’s confidence has to be raised.
They have to begin to want to fly again and certain factors that encourage propensity to fly are also being eroded during this period. So we are in difficult and challenging times and we do not have solutions to it even as advanced countries are spending huge amounts of money to support civil aviation businesses.
The government, because of the challenge of funding has not been able to respond to civil aviation requests and civil aviation funding like other countries have done.
To address the paucity of fund, the Aviation Minister revealed that plan was in the offing to concession airport across the country to mitigate the challenge.
“If the government is not able to fund us because of the challenge of income, then the government should not take the little that we have.
Every single agency in civil aviation is so critical that we need to fund it and because we understand the nature of this business, that was why we have now introduced the concession of our airports.
“We have now done the outline business case, we are now going ahead for the procurement to concession this airport. The reason is simple and that is because this government, the All Progressives Congress administration, is social democratic in nature, it does not want to sell national assets.
It wants to keep the assets with the people but we can concession them and improve them to make them better. We are very sure that when we do that we will improve the revenue of the nation.”