Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Minister Seeks N5 Billion for Tourism 'Masterplan'

A new tourism masterplan that will "galvanise" the economy would require up to N5 billion to formulate, Tourism Minister Edem Duke told senators in Abuja yesterday.

Duke, who was speaking at a budget hearing, said the N145 million provided for the masterplan project in the 2013 budget is inadequate.

"There is a need for intervention funds," he said, adding: "N145 million is not enough for this masterplan. We're talking about an activation that will galvanise other sectors of the economy.

"We've established a secretariat for the masterplan, and we've started engaging the private sector. We're expecting about three foreign experts to move the masterplan from a paper work to an action plan."

The issue of providing a tourism masterplan for the country has propped up several times under successive ministers of tourism, and billions of naira have been sunk into the project over the years.

A so-called National Tourism Masterplan was first launched in 2008.

When he appeared before senators yesterday, Duke did not say what happened to that masterplan and why he needed N5 billion to create another one.

In June 2010, chairman of the National Tourism Master Plan committee, Dr. Franklin Adejuwon, was quoted to have said non-implementation of the masterplan launched in 2008 should be blamed on the civil servants in the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

In December 2002, Adejuwon was quoted as saying the second phase of the tourism masterplan was concluded and a report on it sent to the ministry of culture and tourism.

Duke did not explain yesterday what phase of the masterplan he wants to execute with the funds he was asking for.

Speaking on the 2013 budget proposal, he said the Ministry of Finance did not give his ministry an insight into the document.

Duke said out of the N150 proposed for Abuja Carnival in 2012, only N50 million was appropriated out of which N42 million was released.

Senator Babafemi Ojudu, a member of the Senate Committee on Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, said he was concerned that the minister was leading culture and tourism to no clear-cut direction. He suggested for the convening of a stakeholders' summit on the way forward.

Duke put the 2013 budget estimate of the ministry and its agencies at N22.48 billion out of which N2.4 billion would go to the main ministry whose capital expenditure, personnel and overhead costs would gulp N1.2 billion, N562.5 million and N653.8 million respectively.

The Senate committee expressed dissatisfaction when the minister could not provide the details of the spending of the N20.7 billion budgeted for the ministry in 2012.

Committee chairman Hassan Barata asked the minister to provide the details of the 2012 budget as soon as possible so that the committee would have a clear idea of the budget performance of the ministry.

The minister, who promised to provide the details later, said N13.586 billion was budgeted for personnel cost, N3.2 billion for capital expenditure and N3.9 billion for overhead.

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