The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has said the N17 billion slashed by the National Assembly in the 2017 budget proposal for the Mambilla hydropower project was the federal government’s counterpart funding ahead of the Chinese loan for the project, Daily Trust reports.

In a statement by his spokesman, Hakeem Bello, Fashola said the Mambilla Power Project was slashed because it contained a “whooping N17bn” for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). He noted that “there was indeed a mis-description of that particular expenditure head which could have happened during the classification of so many thousands of budget heads in the budget estimates.”

Fashola however explained that the budget head for EIA was actually the nation’s counterpart funding to the China-EXIM loan to fund the project. He added that the error was only pointed out after the allocation had been slashed and that “if the intention was not to slash arbitrarily it should have been brought to his attention to explain.”