With an outstanding liabilities of N69.9 billion to contractors in the housing sector, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has expressed concerns that the N76.4 billion proposed for the sector in the 2021 Budget would be grossly inadequate.
Appearing before join Senate and House Committees on Housing in Abuja on Thursday, Fashola (SAN) explained that the priority of the Housing Sector of the Ministry in the 2021 budget is the completion of ongoing projects.
“The basis of the 2021 Budget will be anchored on the following priority areas; completion of the construction of the remaining 2140 units of houses under the National Housing Program in 34 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)”, he said.
Other projects prioritised for completion in the 2021 budget according to the Minister are; completion of the construction of ongoing Federal Secretariats in six (6) States of Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Osun and Zamfara.
Fashola also listed, building and maintenance works for other MDAs nationwide, upgrading, completion and running of Building Craft Training Schools in Harvey Road, Yaba and Onikan , Lagos State and Design and Installation of Solar Power PV Microgrid System and Energy Retrofitting of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing Headquarters Mabushi Abuja as amongst the priority projects of the Ministry.
The Minister told the committee that the ongoing projects under the Housing Sector includes the construction of 3,926 National Housing Projects across the six geo-political zones of the Federation and FCT, out which he said 1,786 units have been completed.
He also mentioned that eleven (11) Federal Secretariats are being rehabilitated, while six (6) in Bayelsa, Anambra, Ekiti, Osun, Zamfara and Nasarawa are under construction.
Accordingly, the Minister reminded the Committee that, President Muhammadu Buhari had during the presentation of the 2021 budget proposals repeatedly emphasised the necessity to focus the Budget on completion of projects.
Speaking on the challenges, Fashola said: “The major factor militating against the timely completion of projects is insufficient budgetary provision for projects to sustain annual cash-flow requirements levels.”
He suggested that MDAs should provide a sum representing 2-10 percent of Capital Budget annually as maintenance provision, pointing out that the peculiarities of public buildings and dynamics of indigenous operational imperatives warrant greater flexibility, necessitating a more robust and pragmatic provision.
The Joint Senate and House Committees on Housing led by Senator Sam Egwu suggested that to address the issue of insufficient budgetary provision for projects and to be able to sustain annual cash-flow requirement levels, the Ministry should key in the 2020 outstanding liabilities into the 2021 budget proposal or any other future budget appropriation.
His suggestion was informed by the huge outstanding liabilities to the tune of N69.9 billion as against the N76.4 billion 2021 budget proposal. He pointed out that if the 2021 budget proposal is used to defray the 2020 liabilities, nothing would be left to execute and sustain 2021 projects.