October 26, 2021

TrustTV

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After releasing N5bn, operators await N17bn aviation bailout balance

Five months after the N5 billion out of a N22bn aviation industry palliative was released, the balance of N17bn has not been disbursed by the federal government.

Operators that include airlines, ground handling companies, among others may have had their hopes dashed as the Ministry of Aviation said it was yet to get the fund balance.

The N22bn was approved by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) headed by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to stimulate recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government released N5bn in January to aviation industry beneficiaries from which airlines got N4bn while the N1bn was shared to ground handlers, caterers, travel agents, aviation fuel marketers and airport car hire operators.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, during a recent interaction with the operators, said the N17bn is not with his ministry yet.

Sirika said he had visited the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning more than 10 times for the balance.

“It is not that the money is still in the Ministry or any Ministry’s staff. Here is what happened: the pandemic came and took everybody by surprise.

“The committee (ESC) suggested that N22bn should be given to aviation and from what they found, that N22bn was divided into sectors and what to do with it, with some criteria but only N5bn was released to the Ministry and the Ministry forwarded it to the private sector.

“But the balance has not been given, I have asked for it, I have written letters and I have been to the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, I am sure for more than 10 times to check the balance.”

Commenting, an aviation analyst, Olumide Ohunayo, charged the Ministry to ensure that the balance was released so it can go out to other agencies that did not benefit in the first segment.

“Most industry players were not happy that the money was allocated to a national carrier that was not in existence. Palliatives are meant to sustain jobs and keep organizations in the industry afloat,” he said.