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Government stalls as 11 companies indicate interest to run Ajaokuta Steel company

NO fewer than 11 companies have indicated interest to operate the Ajaokuta Steel Company but government says the will only be handed over companies when infrastructure needed for runing the company is put on ground.

This is just as the Mines and Steel Development Ministry said that the sector had witnessed a steady rise in its contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) from 0.3 per cent in 2015 to 0.6 per cent in 2016.

Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bwari made this known while giving a three-year account of stewardship (2016-2018) on Monday in Abuja.

According to him, the Federal Government was not ready to hand over the company now, as all infrastructure required for the commencement of the company such as rail, dredging of Lokoja and Warri ports were yet to be completed.

He said the company would be handed over to a competent organisation with financial and technical capability, but preferably a Nigeria company, to manage the steel industry as soon as all infrastructure needed were completed.

“The policy of the government is that it will not release Ajaokuta steel just like that; what we are planning to do is to regulate and create enabling environment for the company to strive,” he said.

On Delta Steel Company, the minister said that the industry had been privatised to a private company, adding that it was no more in the custody of the Federal Government.

“Delta steel is now owned by Premium steel, It is no longer in the hands of government because it has been privatised, it has commenced operation but on a small-scale level,” he said.

He said the most critical challenge facing the mining sector before the advent of this administration was poor funding, adding that in 2015, the aggregate capital allocation for the entire ministry was just a N1bn.

“I am glad to inform you that funding for the ministry has improved tremendously in the last three years, to demonstrate in concrete terms the commitment of this administration to the sector.

“The sum of N30 billion was approved by the Federal Government as intervention fund for the ministry to fund exploration projects, to generate the needed geo-sciences data and provide the necessary regulatory framework to enable sectoral growth,” he said.

He said that under this administration, the sector had witnessed a steady rise in its contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) from 0.3 per cent in 2015 to 0.6 per cent in 2016.

Bwari said that the overall revenue generated by the ministry from royalties and fees had improved from N2.08 billion in 2015 to N3.92 billion in 2017 and N2.97 billion as at October 2018.

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