…As Umahi urges lawmakers to get OSGoF, FSS, two others parastatals back to ministry
By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Ministry of Works has proposed the sum of N657,228,251,596 billion appropriation bill for the 2024 fiscal year.
This is also as the Minister, Engineer Dave Umahi has urged the lawmakers to get back to the ministry the Office of the Surveyor-General of the Federation (OSGoF); Federal School of Surveying, Oyo (FSS); Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN); and Surveyors’ Council of Nigeria (SURCON)
Engr. Umahi, who made the demand while addressing the joint committee on works in Abuja on Monday, explained that Capital Budget Proposal for the Ministry of Works itself will engulf N 566,466,977,361, while it’s parastatals; Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA). N51, 282,456,911; African Regional Institute for Geo-Special Information Science and Technology AFRIGIST (RECTAS) goes for N104,039,920 amounting to N617,853,474,192.
He explained further that the Overhead Budget Proposal for Ministry stands at N668,116,856.00 while its Parastatals: FERMA will require N22,027,209,696. and RECTAS/AFRIGIST has zero proposal amounting to a total sum of N22,695,326,552.
While Personnel Cost Proposal for the Ministry is N12,598,351,319 and it’s parastatals will engulf N4,081,099.
The Minister noted that 693 new projects have been proposed in the 2024 Budget which are critical to improving road network connectivity and thus enhancing traffic circulation on the Federal Road network, which is necessary for boosting socio-economic activities in the country.
According to him, “The primary objective is enabling the Ministry achieve its mandate in providing a quality Federal Road network that serves as an environment to aid socio-economic growth of the country.
“The main challenge to highways development in the country remains inadequate funding. As at date, government is committed to highway contractors to the tune of about N13.835 trillion with a total of about N1,507,873,365,516.02 unpaid certificates for executed works.
“Secondly, the dearth of younger Engineers/Technical Officers in the Ministry as a result of embargo on employment is affecting effective project supervision at the sites. It is expected that more sources of funding of highway projects be explored as well as lifting the embargo on employment of needed Engineers/Technical officers at middle level to enhance supervision of projects.
“Our Ministry has set up six committees to review all debts, approved and unapproved variations on prices of basic rates, and all augmentations that occurred before May 29th 2023 and from May 30th 2023 till date.
According to Umahi, “The provision of an Emergency Fund of about 30% of the Budget Provision will cater for unforeseen emergencies that regularly occur on the road network especially during the rainy seasons;
“An increase of the Ministry’s present budgetary allocation to about N1.5trillion to complete at least 10 selected critical roads and bridges in each of the six geo-political zones of the country;
“Urgent review of all certified debts to contractors and if possible, convert same to Promissory Notes to contractors so that we can get properly focused in using any fund appropriated to us to pursue the Ministry’s set objectives;
“Inflation- Many contractors are presently out of sites because they have exhausted their contract VoPs and needed the projects unit rates to be reviewed. It will be good that all VoPs and augmentations of all the projects are reviewed and those that are owed be converted to Promissory Notes, while unit rates regime will take effect on contractors in line with the current realities of the construction industry.
“More eligible companies should be encouraged to key into the Road Tax Credit Scheme to increase the number of private sector interventions. This means front-loading their tax liabilities to solve our present challenges;
“Raising of Bonds from the Capital Market to finance road development in the country;
“Creation of an enabling environment by fixing the roads so that the deployment of the Highway Development and Management Initiative (HDMI) can be effective.
“That appropriations for projects be such that no projects when started should last for more than four years,” he said.