By Ismaila Chafe
Nigeria has earmarked N213 billion to fast-track the modernization of the nation’s railway system in 2017 fiscal year.
President Muhammadu Buhari made this known while presenting 2017 budget estimates before the joint session of the National Assembly.
He said the amount would represent the counterpart funding for the Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Ajaokuta-Itakpe- Warri railway, and Kaduna-Abuja railway projects.
“Efforts to fast-track the modernization of our railway system will receive further boost through the allocation of N213.14 billion as counterpart funding for the Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Ajaokuta-Itakpe- Warri railway, and Kaduna-Abuja railway projects.
“As I mentioned earlier, in 2016, we invested a lot of time ensuring the paper work is done properly while negotiating the best deal for Nigeria.
“I must admit this took longer than expected but I am optimistic that these projects will commence in 2017 for all to see.”
The president further disclosed that N50billoin had been set aside as Federal Government’s contribution for the expansion of existing, as well as the development of new, Export Processing and Special Economic Zones.
He said: “These will be developed in partnership with the private sector as we continue our efforts to promote and protect Nigerian businesses.
“Furthermore, as the benefits of agriculture and mining are starting to become visible, I have instructed that the Export Expansion Grant be revived in the form of tax credits to companies.”
According to him, this will further enhance the development of some agriculture and mining sector thereby bringing in more investments and creating more jobs, saying that N20 billion has been voted for the revival of this programme.
The president stated that N15 billion had been provided for the recapitalization of the Bank of Industry and the Bank of Agriculture to address the difficulties being faced by small and medium scale businesses in accessing longer term and more affordable credit.
He said that in addition, the Development Bank of Nigeria would soon start operations with 1.3 billion dollars focused exclusively on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.(NAN)