The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has warned that the Federal Government’s aim of achieving inclusion and employment, through the N6.6tn 2016 budget may be elusive; and that the people targeted may not benefit, if government’s spending or contracts are mainly handled by foreign companies.
He also said the gains might not be realised if professionals were either not participating or, where they did, preferred imported goods to local ones.
He urged indigenous companies, professionals, artisans and all Nigerians to take advantage of the FG’s budget of N1.8tn for capital expenditure, in particular; and N6.06trn total budget size, to increase their patronage, professional efficiency, job and wealth-creation potential.
He spoke during the fifth meeting of the National Council on Lands, Housing and Urban Development in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Friday.
The summit was themed, ‘Building adequate capacity of professionals, artisans and tradesman in the built environment.’
The minister said the plan of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to increase the capital spending in 2016 budget to 30 per cent of the total budget size of N6.06trn was enough evidence of change.’
He stated that the aim of FG’s N6.06tn budget was to reflate the economy, stimulate it and increase national productivity.
Fashola said, “The decisions taken by the Buhari administration is to increase the capital spending in 2016 budget to 30 per cent of the total budget size of N6.06tn. This is change for those who still ask what has changed. It is change because it is a welcome departure from almost a decade of spending only 10 per cent of our annual budget on capital expenditure. “It means that unlike in the past, when only about N400bn was planned for capital spending, and indeed much less was ultimately released and spent, this year about N1.8tn is planned for capital spending with the commitment to fund it.
“But this is not the end of the purpose of spending. It is only the means to get to the end.
“The end really is to reflate this economy, to stimulate it back to growth and back to productivity. To provide the opportunity for people to feel included in the economy in a way that growth then translates into employment for them. Employment for ordinary hardworking people who can then get up in the morning and say with the dignity that comes with it that I am going to work.”
He added, “But I must advise that inclusion and employment will not happen by happenstance. They will not happen simply because government plans to spend money and actually does so.
“Yes, the budget will work, money will be spent, but inclusion may not happen and the people targeted for the benefit may not benefit, if the benefit is transferred to foreign countries, to foreign factories because professionals either do not participate or where they do, they prefer foreign made or imported goods to local ones.”
The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, urged the participants to avail themselves of the opportunity of the conference to review existing policies on lands, housing and urban development. He advised them to put in place new policies that would adequately address existing challenges and bequeath an efficient land and housing sector to future generations.