The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has revealed that the federal government owed contractors handling road and housing projects across the country a staggering N956 billion as at September 2022.
The former governor of Lagos state disclosed this on Wednesday at separate 2023 budget defence sessions with the Senate Committees on Works and Housing, also lamented over drastic budget cuts earmarked for the two sectors in the 2023 fiscal year.
According to him, out of the N956 billion outstanding liabilities, the federal government owes contractors handling the National Housing Scheme N191.75billion, while the remaining balance of N765billion is owed contractors handling road projects across the country from the total contract value of N10.4trillion.
Specifically, in his submissions before the Senate Committee on Housing, Fashola said the National Housing Project, which started in 2016, has been executed in 35 out of 36 states with 1,250 contractors.
The 6,000 housing units, he added, have created 46 construction sites across the country, 29,030 direct employment and 57,874 indirect employment.
“The National Housing Project is very much on course but the problems of paucity of funds through drastic budget slash and outstanding liabilities of N191.75billion, need to be urgently looked into.
“In 2022 fiscal year, while the total capital votes for both Works and Housing Components of the Ministry was N441.18billion, the proposal made for 2023 fiscal year is N146billion.
“Out of the proposed N146billion as capital expenditure for the entire Ministry in 2023 fiscal year, only N45billion is earmarked for the housing sector,” he said.
Making similar submissions to the Senate Committee on Works, the minister said: “The main challenge to highways development in the country remains inadequate funding.
“As at date, the government is committed to highway contractors to the tune of about N10.4trillion while a total of about N765billion are unpaid certificates for executed works.
“Secondly, the shortage of younger engineers/technical officers in the ministry as a result of embargo on employment is affecting proficient project supervision at the sites”.
However, chairmen and members of the committees commended the Minister for a series of roads and Housing projects executed across the country in the face of scarce resources and other challenges.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing, Senator Sam Egwu ( PDP Ebonyi North), told the minister to use the proposed N45billion capital votes in the 2023 budget to complete the remaining 3,000 units of the 6,000 units National Housing Project.
At the Committee on Works , headed by Senator Adamu Aliero (PDP Kebbi Central), the Minister was tasked with ensuring completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge this year and the critical road projects he highlighted.