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FG To Spend N23.1bn On Airport Rehabilitation In 2024

 

The federal government has proposed to spend about N23.1 billion on the “rehabilitation and repairs” of airport facilities across the country next year.

Details of the proposal are contained in the budget for the 2024 fiscal year presented to the National Assembly by President  Bola Tinubu.

The budgetary proposal implies that about 36.5 per cent of the N63.3 billion allocated to the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development will be spent on the rehabilitation of the country’s dilapidated airport facilities next year.

From this amount, a review of the budget document published on the country’s budget office website indicated that N21.0 billion has been earmarked for the rehabilitation and “repairs of airports and aerodromes”, while the rehabilitation of “air navigational equipment” is expected to gulp N2.1 billion.

An aerodrome is a location from which aircraft flight operations take place, regardless of whether they involve air cargo, passengers, or neither. This location is described as a high-risk environment.

In November, Tinubu presented a budget of N27.5 trillion for the 2024 fiscal year to the National Assembly.

The budget, dubbed ‘Budget for the Renewed Hope’, is designed to accelerate economic growth, and human capital development, and also reduce poverty and insecurity.

The president also said the 2024 budget will address issues in the education sector such as the establishment of a sustainable model of funding tertiary education and implementation of the Student Loan Scheme scheduled to become operational by January 2024.

According to Tinubu, based on the parameters and fiscal assumptions, the budget recurrent expenditure will gulp N9.92 trillion, capital expenditure is N8.7 trn, deficit projected at N9.18trn and debt servicing will be N8.25 trillion.

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Nevertheless, a review of the 2024 appropriation bill by analysts has also highlighted some significant concerns amid perceived duplication of items, poor/vague representation and absence of Bill breakdown of items captured in the budget across ministries, departments and agencies.

By the budget breakdown reviewed, the total allocation to the aviation ministry is pegged at N39.80 billion; the Nigerian Meteorological Agency is to get N13.2 billion; Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria, would get N5.5 billion; and the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau got allocation of N4.81 billion.

Meanwhile, specific details of the ministry’s allocation revealed that items such as vehicles and office furniture would gulp N50 million while N1.6 billion is earmarked for security equipment purchases.

Similarly, over N196 million is allocated for refreshments, welfare packages, and sporting activities, among other listed items tagged as “miscellaneous”.

As an ongoing project, the ministry plans to refund N2 billion for the construction of the airport at Birnin Kebbi, in Kebbi State and N2.5 billion for the construction of corporate headquarters and staff accommodation.

According to the ministry’s proposed budget, N2 billion each has been earmarked for the construction of clinics for the four major international airports in the country and the development of Aerospace University in Abuja, and N1 billion for the expansion of wings D and E fingers of Murtala Mohammed Airport, in Lagos.

Similarly, the ministry set aside N500 million for general consultancy for the projects.

As a part of its new project for next year, the aviation ministry has also allocated N3.2 billion for the development of “various airstrips at Umuahia, Funtua and others”; N2 billion for rehabilitation/ development of Osubi airstrip in Delta State; N2 billion each for the perfection of title and securing of Abuja airport land, and the master plan/GAP analysis for five international airports in the country.

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Similarly, about N100 million has been allocated for the implementation of reform initiatives, aeronautical meteorological infrastructure and others.

Meanwhile, a review of the 2024 budget indicated that no budgetary provision was made for the controversial Nigeria Air, launched by former aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.

Recently, the high cost of aviation fuel, forex scarcity and inflationary pressure in Nigeria have worsened the operation of domestic airlines amidst difficulty in accessing foreign exchange. This has pushed some airlines to shut down operations, while air ticket prices have been on a steady rise.

On several occasions, airline operators complained about the operational challenges and how it has hindered progress in the aviation industry.

Similarly, the inability of foreign airlines to repatriate their profit from the country has also made airlines like Emirates withdraw their services.

Reacting to the proposed budgetary figures, Peter Dia of the Aviation Fuel Marketers Association of Nigeria (AFMAN), said he is yet to take a look a critical look at the proposed budget of the ministry, but that any amount proposed can make a difference if the “people managing it have made up their minds to make a difference”.

“The major issue bedevilling our industry is not different from what is happening to the entire nation. When the head is correct, the body will be ready to receive healing and until then, we can only hope”.

 

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