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N174bn Aviation sector debt: Putting the records straight

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Our attention has been drawn to media reports that the Ministry of Aviation under the immediate past Minister, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah incurred a staggering debt of N174billion under the aviation Master Plan. Nothing can be further from the truth.

While we commend the National Assembly, especially the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Aviation for supporting and keying into the aviation Master Plan, it is however, imperative to put the records straight on the alleged indebtedness,  the loans obtained during that period and the mode of repayment.

The agenda for the transformation of the aviation sector which warranted the conceptualization of the Master Plan was for the industry to be fully self sustaining by 2016; and begin to yield additional revenue for government through improved Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

In order to achieve the above objectives, we embarked on the upgrade and rehabilitation of the 22 federally-owned airports across the country under the Airport Remodelling Programme (ARP).

As part of measures to effectively implement the Master Plan, several sources of funding were identified. These include, (i) Annual budgetary allocations; (ii) Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), including airport development levy and security surcharge; (iii) Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) funds; (iv) Low interest loans, amongst others.

Besides the statutory approvals, the ministry designed the projects with in-built capacities to generate funds without having to place any further financial burden on the Federal Government within the period.

It must also be stressed that these projects were not designed to start and end in 2013, and so, were not tied to the 2013 budget alone.

The Master Plan, it must be noted again, wasn't designed with only the 2013 budget cycle in mind. It was conceptualized to be implemented as a process and not a destination. Therefore, the projection of revenue streams within the life span of the Master Plan are such that all projects would be adequately financed from budgetary allocations and the identified revenue sources; with the high possibility of surpluses that can subsequently be deployed for the repayment of the loans on maturity after the period of moratorium. The question of liabilities therefore, do not arise.

We are convinced that an efficient and effective implementation of the Master Plan would guarantee the realisation of these revenue projections, facilitate the seamless implementation of the projects and ensure the rapid development of the sector into a net revenue earner for the government within the next three years.

We therefore implore the current managers of the sector to exploit these well-laid foundations that were left behind by the former minister and her team.

Dr. Daniel Tarka
Special Assistant to the former Minister