According to reports, the federal government has spent over N750billion on infrastructure in the last five months, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said.
The minister gave this hint yesterday at a public forum in Lagos, where she was guest speaker at the Wealth Creation Platform 2016, organised by KICC International.
According Mrs. Adeosun, the federal government was concerned about the growing infrastructural deficit in the country, hence the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has made infrastructure finance one of its major priorities.
“In the past few years, 90% of all what we were spending on was on recurrent leaving just 10% for capital projects. For instance, when we came on board, we discovered that the federal government spent N19billion on infrastructure in 2013 while it spent a total of N64b on travels, N51billion on welfare like rice, biscuits, coffee, and tea. If you spend for the wrong things you are going to get the wrong results,” she said.
The economy, she emphasised, “Can’t grow if you don’t have the right infrastructure. Why is infrastructure important? It is important because it helps to unlock the economy and productivity of the nation. This is why the federal government released over N750 billion in the last five months to boost infrastructure. The country requires at least N25billion yearly to cater for our infrastructure and that is why we’re prioritising infrastructure and also urging the state governments to align with us so that we can all move in progress together.”
The minister who acknowledged the fact that country was in dire financial straits at the moment, said things would have been a lot better if the right infrastructure was in place.
Waxing philosophical, she said, “Often things get worse before they get better. Most nations that are doing well today have passed through some kind of adversity. Ethiopia, that everybody is talking about today invests over 60% of its budget on infrastructure, they export flowers to Holland and make a lot of forex in return. Nigeria needs to take a cue from such good examples.”
The federal government, she further hinted plans to increase its expenditure on infrastructure in 2017 to bridge the growing infrastructure gap in the country.
“We have set up the Road Trust Fund, where we hope to use pension funds to massively fund roads that can be tolled,” she said.
Besides fixing infrastructure, the Buhari administration, she stressed, is also determined to address the ease of doing business.
Speaking earlier, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, a businesswoman who is the richest African woman, urged the prospective start-ups to work hard, prioriotise, manage their expectations and plan adequately for their businesses in order to succeed.
Addressing the participants separately, the host pastor of KICC International, Maryland, Lagos, Pastor Femi Ashiru, the Senior Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo, said Nigerians must be willing to endure the present predicaments for the country to be great again.