The House of Representatives has raised alarm over the debt profile of the Aviation Ministry.
While the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, is planning to secure a $461 million loan to “reconstruct and upgrade facilities in selected Nigerian airports,” the House is worried about the increasing debts of the ministry.
Sirika had made known his plans to secure the fresh credit facility for the ministry. And this will be in addition to the $500 million already borrowed by the aviation ministry for the same purpose, outside the 2019 budgetary allocation of N47.5 billion.
During the 2019 budget defence by the ministry, and its allied agencies, the Chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Abia), said the move by the minister amounted to biting more than they can chew since they were already indebted, and especially as its “2018 budget was only implemented at a paltry 11 per cent.”
Although she expressed concern over the condition of airport facilities in Nigeria, she noted that the government might have failed to plan; was wrongly advised by the bureaucrats; or never accurately assessed its needs.
“I think our problem in this country is not with budgeting but implementation. It is sad that we are still grappling with only 11 per cent implementation of the 2018 budget.
“I’m also concerned about the minister’s new borrowing request of US$461 million, in addition to the US$500 million already borrowed.
“These are outside the 2019 budgetary allocation of N47.5 billion. I think we need to be careful over borrowing what our children will spend their life time repaying.”
Sirika’s stance on the loan request
While responding to questions directed at him, the minister allayed fears by members of the committee, saying the new loan request, saying the airports and aviation market are all viable and productive, as the ministry intends a Private Public Partnership (PPP) with future concessionaires.
According to Sirika, the new loan, when procured, would be used in rehabilitating facilities at the Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt airports.
According to the minister’s submission, of the N26.9 billion budgeted for the ministry in 2018, only N3.1 billion was released out of which N2.9 billion was spent.
Sirika attributed the 11 per cent 2018 budget performance to lack of planning with regard to the ability to adequately fund the budget.