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FG to Raise $2billion from Concession of Rail Lines

Nigeria seeks more time to negotiate rail project with GE
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has said federal government plans to raise $2 billion through the concession of the existing Lagos-Kano/Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line.
Udoma spoke in Abuja just as the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, called for the lowering of interest rate to boost economic growth.

The Minister, who also explained that the federal government had released N400 billion out of the budgeted N1.8 trillion capital vote for the year, said discussions were on with General Electric (GE) to take over the rail line as part of the efforts to multiply revenue sources to fund the budget.

“We are working on all fronts at the same time. One is to get oil production back – it is very important. Two, is the asset sales, concession and all that. We are discussing with General Electric, and I will give that as a practical example,” Udoma said in a document released to THISDAY monday, adding that the firm had already committed to bring in $2 billion into the concession arrangement.

He said that the concessionaire would take over the rail lines, revamp them and build coaches in the country, explaining that the process of getting the thing through would however take some time.

“We have to wait for the various government agencies because there are certain procedures we have to go through. This is why we met and said, is there a way we can fast track some of these things? Because we need the money today, not in three or four months’ time,’’ Udoma explained.

The minister said the recurrent budget, as contained in the 2016 Appropriation Act, had been “virtually fully’’ implemented.

“As far as the recurrent is concerned, the 2016 budget has been virtually fully implemented. The emoluments have been paid in full. We’ve released all the money. At the federal level, all salaries have been released. We have met that in full,’’ Udoma stated.

He added: “We have also met all debt service in full. With regards to overheads, we have not met that in full but we are almost there. The problem has been capital. In the capital budget, we planned to spend about N1.8 trillion, but we’ve only spent about N400 billion.

“So, we have not been able to meet up with the level of capital releases. The reason for that is that if you look at the first six months of the year, the revenue performance was N1 trillion less than we projected.’’

Udoma added that given that rate, it meant that at the end of the year, there would be N2 trillion less revenue than the country expected, saying there is no economy and person that could manage that without being where the country is tuesday.

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