Works and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola has given reasons why the Federal Government continued to borrow to finance infrastructure deficits in the country.
He asked critics of the government’s “borrowings” to suggest alternative means to fund the nation’s vital projects.
Speaking at the inspection of two bridges the Federal Government built in Cross River State, Fashola said President Muhammadu Buhari remained committed to reducing the infrastructure deficit across the country.
The minister said every borrowing was tied to specific projects.
He called for the understanding of Nigerians on the need to borrow for the execution of vital projects.
Fashola challenged those saying the government was borrowing too much, saying: “They should provide alternative source of revenue to generate money. Or, do they want us to tax you more?
“This is public finance. Those people saying those things, it is Home Economics they know; they don’t know public finance.”
The minister noted that a good knowledge of what some other countries are doing would enable them to appreciate the efforts of the current Federal Government.
He cited the infrastructure plans in the United States of America (U.S.A), saying one of the reasons the country cut down on borrowing is because it comes from taxes.
“So, they said it’s going be too much. They want the infrastructure, but let’s cut it down because the only way is by increasing taxes,” Fashola said.
On the reconstruction of the Calabar-Itu Federal highway between Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, he said: “We have two contractors there already. We are scooping for the third contractor. The contractors are willing and able but we need resources. So, it’s a funding problem.
“The real deal is the cash, really and truly. Let me also use this opportunity to say that along that axis, there are compensation issues by the communities.
“Those who want infrastructure must be ready to give up some land. We are not taking your land away; we are just asking for the right of way to pass. So, when you start making compensation claims that is almost equal the cost of construction, where do you want us to get the money from?”
He added: “As the President has said, this is a trade-off. The land belongs to the state and the community.
“So, again, I want to appeal to the communities along Calabar-Itu axis to allow us pass. We will pay reasonable compensation for your crops but certainly not for shrines and all those things you build by the road and make claims for.
“The President has said no. So, we expect to see more cooperation from that axis. That’s the way forward.”