Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has described the N76 billion allocated for housing sector as “unrealistic”, noting that the ministry currently owes local contracts N69.9 billion.
The minister stated this when he met the Joint National Assembly Committee on Housing to defend his ministry’s 2021 budget estimates.
He sought assistance of the lawmakers to settle the liabilities “because the N76.4 billion allocated to the ministry in the 2021 budget would be grossly inadequate to execute its 186 projects across the country.”
Fashola added: “The concluding part of our 2020 report is to highlight the liabilities that we have an outstanding of N69.9 billion. So when you look at our 2021 budget, we are almost on a very tight fix because if we have liabilities of N69.9 billion, how far will a budget of N76 billion then take us.”
He further explained that the N76 billion vote was based on the envelope prescription from the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the current financial realities worsened by the free fall of oil prices at the international market.
The Lagos State ex-governor said some 2,601 contractors were being owed N33.9 billion for constituency projects.
He pleaded with the lawmakers to identify projects with huge liabilities and pick them as their special intervention programmes for 2021, instead of proposing new ones.
But the committee opposed the idea, asking the minister to put forward a supplementary budget to pay the contractors that built schools under the special intervention programmes.
Fashola said his ministry would concentrate on the completion of the 2,140 units of houses under the National Housing Programme across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He went on: “Now, the big elephant in the room is the outstanding liabilities, and I 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. I say that because often times, what we end talking about are abandoned projects.”
The minister also stated that the ministry planned to complete the ongoing federal secretariats in Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Osun and Zamfara states.
“The major factor militating against the timely completion of projects is insufficient budgetary provision to sustain annual cash-flow requirement levels,” he restated.
The former two-term governor urged the parliamentarians to consider a legislation that encourages effective maintenance and operation of public buildings in a way to generate employment and additional revenue for the country.