Nigerian govt owing 3,504 housing contractors N70bn – Fashola
Babatunde Fashola, the minister of works and housing, has said his ministry was indebted to 3,504 contractors executing housing projects countrywide to the tune of N69.91 billion.
He told the committee of the National Assembly on housing on Thursday during his 2021 budget defence session that the intervention of the lawmakers were required on how to clear the indebtedness, considering that the ministry’s allocation of N76.4 billion in next year’s budget was well below the outlay needed to implement its 186 projects across Nigeria.
2,601 contractors of the 3,504 on the Works and Housing Ministry’s creditors’ list, who are owed N33.9 billion, executed constituency projects, Mr Fashola said.
“If we have liabilities of N69.9 billion, how far will a budget of N76 billion then take us.
“Now the big elephant in the room is the outstanding liabilities and I’ll like to say with every sense of modesty that I think that we should be commended for bringing this out now when something can be done about it,” Mr Fashola said.
“The big-ticket item in our presentation is the housing projects of N30 billion.
“The next one is special projects. What are special projects? Special projects are your constituents and those are the people on whose behalf you are here.
“They are the primary schools, the mathematics centres, the skills centres…that is what it is.
“So we have to make a choice. That is why we are saying, instead of starting new ones next year, let’s look for possible solution.
“Let’s behave like the very smart people that we are and so instead of starting a new one next year, let’s use next year’s appropriation to finish this so that we can pay those small contractors and there will not be default in the system.”
The legislators dismissed the minister’s recommendation and demanded he propose a supplementary spending plan aimed at settling debts owed to contractors involved in school building under the special intervention programmes.
“It is better that you appropriate it in the budget so that the money will be meant specifically for completing the projects and so that they don’t remain abandoned.
“Nobody is suggesting that you abandon them. We are just saying that instead of using the money for the current year to pay liabilities, you appropriate money from the beginning so that money for that will be used to clear outstanding debts,” said Sam Egwu, chair of the Joint National Assembly Committee on Housing.
Fashola disclosed that the ministry would prioritise the completion of the 2,140 housing units in 34 states and Abuja.