According to a statement by Akpandem James, Media Adviser to the Hon. Minister of Budget and National Planning, recent speculative reports that the plan might have been abandoned are probably fueled by poor appreciation of the essence of the NIIMP and lack of knowledge about recent developments regarding the defining document, which had to undergo a review to reflect current economic realities.
The statement said that “for effective implementation of the NIIMP, the current administration embarked on a number of related key activities including developing a framework for identifying priority projects with infrastructure-heavy MDAs to form part of the 2017 Budget, as well as signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Infrastructure Bank which will act as the Budget and Planning Ministry’s Advisor on NIIMP implementation.
“Also, a two-day pre-summit workshop was hosted by the Ministry with critical Stakeholders to prepare a roadmap for the implementation of Public, Private Partnership (PPP) projects; while also engaging with private sector industry players, especially on PPPs.
“The Ministry is in the process of concluding reality checks on the NIIMP document to address current developments in the global economy; and work is in progress on the development of the first Medium Term Delivery Plan for the NIIMP, which is expected to adequately capture priority areas of the current administration.”
James said that “consistent with the intention of the NIIMP, the 2016 budget accorded priority attention to infrastructure development and allocated a substantial proportion of the first full-year budget of the administration to the sector. It was the largest of such allocation since the country returned to democratic governance in 1999; and clearly showed a determination by government to improve basic infrastructural facilities across the country.
“It could be recalled that integrated infrastructural development was only second to Economic Reforms in the ranking of the six pillars of the present administration’s Change Agenda. Others are Social Development, Governance and Security, Environment, and States and Regional Development.
“The first five years of the NIIMP document provides that energy, transport, social infrastructure and housing should be given priority due to their current relative level of under-investment; and the 2016 Budget gave priority attention to these sectors, with further room for enhancement in the planned 2017 Budget.
“The NIIMP,” he said, “takes stock of existing infrastructure and identifies the required investments to bring them in line with the country’s aspirations. It also establishes sector targets, priority programmes and critical enablers for effective implementation. “
According to him, “some of the major provisions of the NIIMP document include that priority attention should be given to:
• investments directed at the roads sub-sector in order to refurbish cross-national highways as well as expand the regional road network and linkages to other modes of transportation,
• electricity generation capacity and expansion of transmission infrastructure, as well as construction of supporting gas infrastructure,
• expansion of mobile network capacity and the broadband fiber optic network,
• increasing the number of housing units in order to close the current and projected housing deficit,
• construction of facilities for education, hospitals, women and youth development, and sports, as well as,
• investments in national vital registration system and construction and rehabilitation of facilities for all security institutions.
“A cursory glance at the 2016 Budget would reveal that the target areas received priority attention within the boundaries of reasonable resource availability. The fact that the amount indicated in the NIIMP document does not tally with provisions in the 2016 Budget cannot translate to abandonment of the plan,” he said.
“The NIIMP estimated an annual allocation of N6.5 trillion for infrastructure development but that became unrealistic in the face of contemporary economic realities, as the entire national budget for 2016 was just N6.06 trillion.
“In a purported response as to why only 73% of the meagre allocation in the 2015 Budget for MDAs was utilized, a recent publication on the dumping of the NIIMP, quoted the Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, as having replied that even if all the amount allocated was released, “it would not have made a major impact”.
James said that “it would be necessary to point out that the Minister made that comment during the 2016 Budget Analysis Session while reviewing the performance of the 2015 Budget, and not in response to any enquiry on the NIIMP matter. He had explained that the level of project execution during the period was determined mainly by the level of funds available.
“Other comments and responses in the said story credited to other officials were made in 2014 and early 2015 by staff of the then National Planning Commission, and not Ministry of Budget and National Planning which came into being in November 2015.
“It requires emphasis here that the Federal Government is fully committed to addressing the infrastructure gap in the country in the spirit of the NIIMP, within the limits of available resources,” he concluded.