12 June 2014, Abuja – The board and management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) appeared, Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs to defend its N322.6 billion 2014 budget.
The board’s chairman, Senator Ewa Henshaw, regretted that the commission had over 4,000 uncompleted projects because of paucity of funds.
He blamed the problem on a faulty budget process.
The agency chief said NDDC was considering partnerships with reputable firms to enable it deliver on its mandate this year.
He said the low pace of project completion compelled the board and management to seek partnerships with some reputable firms for infrastructure development, health care delivery and power generation, among others.
Henshaw also said the partnerships with the private firms to co-fund the uncompleted projects would leverage on the funds available to the commission and ensure their completion on schedule.
The board chairman stressed that the initiative would solve 80 per cent of the challenges militating against the programmes of the commission.
He said the NDDC would seek a review of the 15 per cent mobilisation fees for contractors, adding that the practice caused the series of abandoned projects in the area.
Henshaw said: “We have decided to lay an agenda for NDDC to enable us implement flagship legacy projects within the sub-region. What this means is that we will tackle very important jobs and developmental projects in the areas of roads, power, health sector and the environment.
“We recognise the difficulty we confront with funding, but we have been careful in trying to identify the sources of funding that will finance this year’s budget.
“In addition to that, we have decided to focus more on partnerships that will help us augment funding for the development of the sub-region. For example, on roads, we are looking at construction companies that will co-fund major projects with us so that we can leverage on what we have in the areas of available funds and the programme to ensure that the projects are completed on time.
“We are also exploring partnerships that will facilitate power generation, because we believe that if we are able to achieve substantial increase in the provision of power, then we believe that at least 50 per cent of the unemployment problem within the region will be solved.
“We are also looking for partnerships for intervention in the Health sector that will directly affect the health care delivery system and the efficiency within that system.”
The chairman told the Senate that the NDDC was battling to surmount its major challenges.
He said: “The first and perhaps most important is the provision of 15 per cent in the budget. What I mean is that if you have a project, say a N2 billion project that can be completed within 12 or 24 months, the current practice is that only 15 per cent, which is what is required for the advance payment, is provided for in the budget.
“Usually, what happens is that the contractor will quickly go beyond 15 per cent value of work done within 12 months but there is no further provision in the budget to continue to pay for the work that he is doing.
“The result is the delay and even abandonment, because after the 15 per cent, the contractor now has to wait for next year’s budget.”
– The Nation