Tuesday, March 10, 2015 9:00 am
With just N11 billion approved by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Finance as the 2015 budget proposal the Federal Ministry of Works, Nigerians must not expect the Federal Government to embark on major infrastructures in the year 2015 if the budget is so passed.
The Ministry of Works had made a proposal of N100 billion as its budget for the year, but this was brought down to N11 billion or 19 percent by the Finance Ministry headed by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy.
With this, only 33 road projects have provisions in the proposal out of a total number of 210 ongoing road projects.
The Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, while defending the budget before the Senate, also lamented that the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, was not even considered in the proposed budget for the year.
FERMA has a responsibility to fix or rehabilitate damaged portions of federal roads in the country.
While some think it is a drain pipe, FERMA has often complained about funding.
Though he argued that the decision of the Ministry of Finance may be as a result of the country’s poor economic situation, if the amount is approved for Works Ministry, it means that contractors would not be encouraged enough to keep up progress at the various sites.
He lamented that no provisions have been made for other departments of the ministry such as Road and Bridge Design Department, Mechanical and Electrical Department and the Service Department.
“Only N45, 682, 844, 395.00bn was released for the works ministry out of 2014 capital appropriation of N98, 814, 368, 704bn . This leaves a balance of N53, 131, 524, 309.00 not released as of December 2014.
“It is important to emphasise that the performance of the ministry would have been considerably enhanced if the outstanding budgeted funds of N53.131bn had been released to the ministry.
“More importantly, if the cumulative outstanding budgeted funds of N203, 392, 075, 947.25 for the period spanning 2011 to 2014 had been released, the total indebtedness would have been brought down from N230bn to N27bn,” he said adding that the government was considering a Public Private Partnership as a result of the country’s economic crunch.
In his response, Chairman of the Works Committee, Senator Ayogu Eze, wondered how the Ministry of Finance came to the conclusion that the Ministry of Works would need a paltry N11 billion when, ordinarily, it should be needing up to N500bn annually for road construction and maintenance.
He said with the current proposed amount, the Ministry of work would need a magician to perform wonders in 2015 adding that the picture was grim.