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Stella Oduah defends herself over alleged N174billion debt


Stella Oduah defends herself over alleged N174billion debt

By Segun Odeleye

There have been media reports recently that the Ministry of Aviation under the immediate past minister, Ms. Stella Oduah, incurred a debt of about N174 billion under the aviation master plan.

Oduah has however denied the reports.

In a statement released by her Special Assistant, Dr. Daniel Tarka, the ex-minister stated that “nothing can be further from the truth.”

The statement claimed that Oduah had laid a good foundation which the current team at the ministry of aviation need to exploit in order to optimise the revenue generation potential of the sector.

According to him, the agenda of the aviation master plan pursued by the former minister was for the transformation of the aviation sector such that the industry would be self-sustaining by 2016; and begin to yield additional revenue for government through improved Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

The statement said that in order to achieve her bold vision, Oduah embarked on the upgrade and rehabilitation of the 22 federal 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) IGR, including airport development levy and security surcharge, (iii) Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) funds, (iv) low interest loans, among 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,” stressing that: “These projects were not designed to start and end in 2013, and so, were not tied to the 2013 budget alone.”

Tarka explained that since the master plan was conceptualised to be implemented as a process and not a destination, its projection of revenue streams within its life span was 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.
He therefore emphasised that the question of liabilities does  not arise.

Rather, he stated that: “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.”

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