President Muhammadu Buhari‘s administration is reportedly spending more on subsiding fuel than it does on construction of roads and bridges across the country as contractors working on the federal road projects are being owed N306 billion by the Federal Government.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola while speaking on the activities of the Ministry. He said the government spends about N1 trillion on fuel subsidy, an amount that could be put to better use by the Ministry of works and housing.
Fashola made this comment during a meeting with the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association. He told the members of the association that a lot of work was ongoing on federal roads nationwide but the budget of the Ministry of Works is not fully funded, Punch reported.
VAT increase, loan to aid work: He explained that the gap in funding is why VAT (Value Added Tax) increment and FG borrowing were essential. Fashola said as at October, FG was owing road contractors N306 billion, but only N73 billion was available, yet more bills were coming in.
“I heard you talk about tolling roads and bridges. Well, as you said, government is actually spending a lot of money on subsidising fuel. And that is a lot of money from government to spend on subsidy.
“I would have loved that that money came to the Ministry of Works, but the numbers I was trying to get for you is that for over four years, between 2015 and 2018, the entire amount we got was not up to N1tn in actual cash in this ministry
He added, “The budget, yes! But not all of the budget is funded. So if we had N1tn to spend on Nigerian roads we would be in a much better position. As of October, we were owing contractors N306bn and more bills are coming in and all we got was N73 billion.
“And this is the country where some people are of the opinion that the government shouldn’t raise VAT. Some people are also of the opinion that government should not even borrow. So I think it is important for those of you here to also come out and take a position.”
Fashola didn’t rule out the construction of tollgates on federal roads, but he stated that when a policy had been drafted, Nigerians would be informed.
“When it is time to start; of course, we will articulate a clear policy for the information of Nigerians. That is the much I will say about that,” he stated.
Public transport owners back toll gate: The decision to return toll gates to federal road years after former President, Olusegun Obasanjo removed them, has been supported by the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association.
The President of the association, Isaac Uhunmwagho, during the meeting with Fashola said the Federal Government has their backing. The association, which consists of key inter-state transporters in Nigeria, however, said if the toll gates were to return to the highways, it should be placed on roads linking Lagos and Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt and Abuja and Abuja and Kano