By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has stated that the goals of the 2016 Budget would lead the economy out of the current recession.
Fashola, spoke at the Town Hall Meeting/Policy Dialogue for Good Governance organized by the Alumni Association of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic in Abuja on Tuesday, said by reordering the expenditure focus of the budget, government has set the economy on the path of growth and recovery.
While describing allocation of 30 per cent of the N6 Trillion Budget to Capital Expenditure, as historic in the annals of budgeting in the country, he said government has ensured that more of the budget would impact on the larger society as against the previous practice where those in government, who constitute less than three per cent of the population, got the bulk share.
Fashola, who disclosed that N102 Billion was released to his Ministry out of the N300 Billion already released by the Federal Government, said as at July this year, N70 Billion had been paid out to contractors, project managers and consultants designing roads and bridges adding that with the payment, the various contractors have returned to site.
â€œThat is stimulus spending that happened in America, that is the Marshal Plan that happened in Europe; that was the Roosevelt Plan after the Great Depression. So we are not doing anything unusual. The only difference now is that we are working with leaner resources and seeking to do more with lessâ€, he said.
He listed the road projects where contractors have returned to site as a result of the payments, to include the Kano-Katsina Road, Kano-Maiduguri Road, the Ilorin-Jebba Road, the Loko-Oweto Road, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Port Harcourt â€“Enugu Road among a number of others.
In the Power Sector, Fashola said with the money available, the Ministry was currently working to complete the 215MW Kaduna Power Plant, the transmission line for the Gurara 40MW plant, the Kashimbilla Plant and some of the other power projects, adding that it was also remobilizing contractors back to the transmission sites.
The Minister explained that it was necessary to revitalize the transmission lines, most of which had stopped for over two years as a result of non-payment of contractors, in order to be able to evacuate power being generated pointing out that some of the contractors couldnâ€™t clear some of the equipment they imported.
â€œSome have been trapped at the ports for decadesâ€, he further explained adding that government was now trying to clear all those parts for the contractors some of who, according to him, are owing clearing agents in the excess of about N3Billion. He, however, said the Ministry was working with the Office of the Vice President to sort out all the issues â€œand also ensure that monies when ultimately spent are spent for valueâ€.
Fashola said in spite of the setbacks, progress was being made in such places as Irrua in Edo State where transmission work is currently going on, Okada Transmission project, also in Edo, where work has been completed adding that although problem was encountered in Itu local government last month where work stopped on the Itu-Calabar Transmission line over some communities issues, the project was back on track as the issues had been resolved.