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Nigeria pushes for Road, Fuel Taxes as budgetary allocations dwindle

by Business News Report

 Nigeria has taken steps to introduce Road and Fuel Taxes to enable it appropriately maintain its 35, 000- kilometer road network, at the face of dwindling budgetary provisions. The Minister of Works,  Arc. Mike Onolomemen disclosed this at the Pilot Leadership Forum in Abuja. He said that the Jonathan administration was “on an irreversible mission to ensure that Nigerian roads were better and safer” but that the sustenance of the transformation could only be guaranteed through alternative sources of funding as has been the case in other parts of the world.

His words, “In most countries of the world, road tax is one of the veritable ways governments collect revenue for the maintenance of their roads.   It depends on the class of car you drive, at the point of registration, you are classified.

“If you car is more of an executive car, like the 4-wheel drive, you pay more tax than the smaller cars.  In the Uk for instance, it varies from about 500 pounds to the very small cars for which owners pay something even lower than 100 pounds.  And it is an annual thing.

“It is one way of raising money for the maintenance of roads, but here we are not doing that yet.  We are not just talking about road tax just now because it is not in our status.  However, the proposed Road Fund talks about a possibility of having the road tax because for you to be able to sustain the improvement of our federal road network today, we have to think  of maintenance and relying on yearly federal government budget is not enough to maintain the over 35 , 000 km of federal roads.

“The one that has been promulgated into law which is part of the Amendment Act of FERMA, talked about the Fuel Tax.  And the Fuel Tax unfortunately is not being collected in the country today and we have made a strong case  for the collection of the Fuel Tax. We have engaged critical stakeholders like the PPPRA on the need for them to give effect to that Act which is a law in this country.  At the highest level of this country we have had to discuss that and I want to believe that sooner than later the implementation of the 5 per cent Fuel Tax would come on stream- so that will guarantee the sustainable maintenance of roads across the country”.

Consultants for Right-of-way

 The Minister also disclosed that his ministry would soon call for Expressions-of- Interests to consultants who would assist the federal government in the administration of the Right-of-Way of federal highways.

According to him, “we want to do it professionally.  We are going to engage consultants to manage our Right of Way.  We believe that enough can be generated from an appropriate management of Right of way that can be deployed through FERMA for the maintenance of these roads .   That is what we want to do and soon the ministry will be placing publications calling for Expressions of interests for consultants to express interests in the management of our Right of Way so that we can fully document the activities of Right of way.

 “So that we can also enhance the collection of revenue to be paid into the proposed Road Fund because that is one of the sources of financing the National Road Fund and we want to begin the journey now that we know that work has commenced on the Bill. Today, state governments collect taxes on our right of Way and we want that money to be properly channeled into the maintenance of the federal roads”.

Otukpo-Otukpa Road. Fielding questions on the abandoned Otukpo-Otukpa Road, Arc. Onolomemen said that the project was facing challenges of budgetary provisions, as funds had not been allocated to it for a while.

“That road is on maintenance but because of paucity of funds, that road has not been put for full reconstruction  because in the previous years’ budgets, no reasonable amount of money was provided for the road, and you can only do work with what you have.

“I do know that the contractor is always complaining of the paucity of funds and you can only give what you have in the budget in a given year.   In fact I know about this project that it is the lean budgetary provision that has affected this project. And it also dovetails into the fact that with about 118 projects, there is no way the kind of money we received in 2013, which fell below our budgetary allocation we could have done this road  the way we had wanted”, he said.

The minister revealed that the Jonathan administration has completed work on 250,000 of 350,000 killometres of federal across the country. He however, lamented that activities of the Boko haram sect was hampering steady progress of the Kano-Maiduguri Road where the insurgents had killed five construction company’s staff and two engineers of the ministry, while the whereabouts of another seven foreigners abducted from another construction company’s remained unknown till day, after one year.

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