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FG owes contractors N306b, should increase VAT— Fashola

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BABATUNDE Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, says the Federal Government still owes contractors working on federal road projects across Nigeria up to N306 billion.

Fashola who disclosed this while hosting the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association in his office on Tuesday, also argued that the Federal Government should raise VAT and borrow more money.

Speaking against the background of a report by Daily Trust on Monday that Nigeria has spent about N1.5 billion on fuel subsidy this year, he said his ministry did not receive up to N1 trillion  from 2015 to 2018, underscoring how little the Nigerian government is spending on infrastructural development compared with fuel subsidy.

“If we had N1 trillion to spend on Nigerian roads we would be in a much better position. As of October, we were owing contractors N306 billion and more bills are coming in and all we got was N73billion,” he was quoted to have said by The Punch.

The Minister said a lot of work was in progress on federal roads nationwide in response to the requests of the association for the tolling of roads and bridges in Nigeria.

“I heard you talk about tolling roads and bridges. Well, as you said, the government is actually spending a lot of money on subsidising fuel. And that is a lot of money from the government to spend on subsidy,” Fashola said.

Despite the limited resources available for infrastructure development, he expressed disappointment that some persons were kicking against an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), as proposed by the Federal Government.

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“And this is the country where some people are of the opinion that the government shouldn’t raise VAT.

“Some people are also of the opinion that the government should not even borrow. So I think it is important for those of you here to also come out and take a position,” he said.

He also disclosed that the Federal Government would introduce tolls on roads after a clear policy on it had been finalised and made public.

“When it is time to start; of course, we will articulate a clear policy for the information of Nigerians. That is the much I will say about that,” he said.

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Abeeb Alawiye formerly works with The ICIR as a Reporter/Social Media officer. Now work as a Senior Journalist with BBC News Yoruba. You can shoot him an email via Abeeb.alawiye@bbc.co.uk or follow him on Twitter @habsonfloww

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