2017 budget: Senate threatens zero allocation to aviation sector

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The Senate may not approve the planned concession of the four international airports if the federal government fails to settle the lingering disagreement between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Bi-Courtney Aviation Services (BASL) over the concession agreement over the management of the terminal two and the General Aviation Terminal at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

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This is just as the senate has threatened not to approve any budget for the aviation sector in 2017 in view of the controversies with many other private investors in the sector.

Speaking at the Lagos airport yesterday, the Chaizrman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Ben Murray-Bruce who led other committee members on a guided tour of the private terminal otherwise known as MMA2 facilities, explained that he would lobby other Senators in the Senate to ensure that aviation industry got zero allocation in 2017 budget.

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Murray-Bruce used the occasion to declare the intention of the committee to urgently summon the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika to clarify why the private agreement reached between FAAN, the government parastatal and BASL since 2006 was not fully complied with by the government, saying that government is continuum.

While insisting that the Senate would frustrate any attempt to concession any airport in the country until the crisis with BASL was amicably settled, Murray-Bruce also threatened that the Senate would not hesitate to sanction any government official, including lawyers found wanting in any agreement with private investors.

Murray-Bruce condemned the government for not honouring several of its agreements with private investors, saying that such would have negative effect on the image of the country at large.

“If you sign an agreement that you do not intend to honour, you are then frightening the people who want to get involved in concession or privatisation game. If you have a bad reputation as a government, then, it translates to your successor.

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“Agreements sign with private investors by the government must be honoured. If you don’t want to honour it because you feel it is bad, then, all those who participated in such agreements including lawyers must be tried for sabotaging the government.

“We are all aware that the Ministry of Transport wants to concession multiple airports, which is fantastic. This means billions of naira, which would be spent on the aviation industry, would now be diverted into other sectors of the economy. For all I know, the minister may not be aware of what the problems are in the sector.”

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Also speaking, the Managing Director of BASL, Captain Jari Williams accused the FAAN of breaching the concession agreement it had with it.

He insisted that FAAN had consistently breached the concession, most notably with the redevelopment and continued operations of the General Aviation Terminal in contravention of the exclusivity clause in the agreement with Bi-Courtney Limited, BCL.

He lamented that the continual operation of GAT by FAAN had reduced by 50 per cent its expected revenues, saying that MMA2 was projected to process four million passengers annually.

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