The Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI has confirmed that the Federal Government of Nigeria has cleared more than half of the outstanding debts owned to many of its members.
Chairman of FOCI, Mr Nasiru Dantata, who made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that the Federal Government had paid more than half of the money owed its members.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 62nd Annual General Meeting of the Federation, Dantata said that the Federal Government did not just stop at payment for past contracts but was also awarding new contracts.
According to him, FOCI had moved on from the bad situation it found itself.
“Actually for now the situation is different, most of our members have gotten a substantial amount of their outstanding debts paid and also many of our members are being patronized by the current administration on new jobs.
“I do not have the accurate figure because not all construction companies are members of FOCI, but from the over N300 billion we presented to this administration, I believe more than half have been paid.
“Our members are now busy working on many projects.
“Some of the jobs are quite big, like the 375km Abuja-Kano road. So we are hopeful this will continue.
“Government at federal and state levels now patronize us. My company is indigenous and I have enjoyed good patronage from Nigeria,” he said.
In 2015, FOCI disclosed that the government owed its members over N500 billion, claiming that one company alone was owed N70 billion.
Dantata stressed that there was need for some indigenous companies to up their game, adding that some of the companies perceived as foreign were actually indigenous.
Speaking on the issue of withholding tax refund, the FOCI president said that there was need for the government to review the procedure so as to make it easier.
He disclosed that FOCI was already in talks with the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to see how the tax can be reduced to 2,5 per cent to avoid the problems of having to refund.
“What we are proposing to the government is that since we are working in the area of development, the best thing is to reduce the withholding tax on our activities.
“This was done briefly some years ago and it was reversed but we are discussing with the Chairman of FIRS; he has assured us that what happened was that there was abuse by other sectors.
“The amount involved is in billions,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the present administration will clear all arrears owed its members.