We need N10trn infrastructure bond to curb Budget deficit — Fashola

FOR Nigeria to  meet up with the infrastructural deficit and advance the course of its development in the next ten years, a total of N10 trillion infrastructural bond is needed, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola,  has said.

The minister made this disclosure, yesterday, at a meeting with members of the House of Representatives Committee on Works to defend his ministry’s 2018 budget performance and 2019 budget proposal.

Fashola, who drew accolades from the committee members for his achievements so far in the road sector, made the comments in reaction to suggestions that alternative funding mechanisms for road construction and maintenance in the country was necessary.

He said while government was constrained to operate within the current budgetary limits, it has considerably scaled up performance using the Sukuk Bond over which he said government had no allocation control.

On the issue of road construction and rehabilitation relative to the availability of fund from annual appropriations, the committee chairman, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), noted that the minister “has done considerably well in the light of inadequate cash flow from budgetary releases.”

Fashola, meanwhile, called for a N10 trillion infrastructure bond, which can take care of the nation’s infrastructural issues and deficit going forward. “If such is created, we can draw from it without resorting to the annual budget, but of course with legislative backing to solve our problems once and for all,” he said.

The minister in the interim expressed confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s willingness to sign the Road Infrastructure Fund Bill, provided the provisions don’t conflict with existing laws governing the sector.

The committee members also took the minister up on his 7-point priorities, noting that the pace of implementation leaves much to be desired. They said many roads and bridges across the country have become death traps – failing even while still under construction with many others still waiting for attention.

The Committee Chairman,  Okechukwu at this point asked the minister to intimate the committee on how the 2019 budget can capture road maintenance in the country so that existing roads don’t fail as obtained in the past.