By Racheal Ishaya
The Federal Government will improve its revenue by expanding its tax base in order to meet its obligation to the people.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, made the pledge at the 10th African Finance Corporation (AFC), Summit in Abuja on Wednesday.
Fashola said this had become imperative as government had a key role in the provision of infrastructure.
Fashola said history proved that most of the infrastructure revolutions in the world were marshalled by the public sector.
“Investments in Shiroro, Kainji and Jebba power plants, Third Mainland Bridge and the National Stadium, were built with public fund.
“At some point in time, government can enable private sector to provide certain interventions in beneficial ways by opening up the room and scope of their activities”, he said.
Fashola said it was for this reason that many countries including Nigeria were going into concessional agreements and public-private partnerships.
The President of AFC, Mr Andrew Alli, said government should create the enabling environment and leave infrastructure development in the hands of the private sector.
“The sad part is that as long as infrastructure gap exists, it gets wider each year and more difficult to fill.
“When you look at what’s happening in Africa today, government, because of other priorities, cannot finance infrastructure. I’m talking about healthcare, wages and salaries.
“So, there is need to outsource financing to those who can do it or those who have the balance sheet to do it can do so”, he said.
He said governments could have improved infrastructure but for the high rate of corruption in public procurement process.
“Lack of transparency in government procurement process is hindering Africa from doing much and getting value for money”, he said.
The President, Nigeria Stock Exchange, Mr Aigboje Aig-imoukhuede, said although providing basic infrastructure was the role of government, if that government is not up to the task, it has to learn to step aside to allow private financing.
“The potential in Africa will never be realised unless we address the infrastructure deficit and time is not on Africa’s side.
“The world has gone beyond industrialisation and now we are talking about knowledge infrastructure, so there is much catching up to do.
“It’s been very difficult to get African governments to see the private sector as a necessary source of funding and to act and behave in such a manner that will attract that funding”, he said.
The moderator, Mr Mark Edo, declared those who argued for the private sector as winner. “Indeed, private sector financing is the solution to bridging the huge infrastructure gap in Africa.’’