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Reps panel wants budget office returned to planning commission



THE House of Representatives has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to yield to the voice of reason and immediately facilitate the return of the Budget Office currently under the purview of Ministry of Finance to the National Planning Commission (NPC) to enable it achieve effective planning, implementation and proper coordination of the country’s economy.

“The budget office should be part and parcel of  the national planning commission. The new way of having the budget office in the  Finance  Ministry is not working. A lot of countries have gone back, like India and South Africa have gone back to the old ways and it is working for them. The National Planning must sign off before finance can pay. We can’t just be paying for projects, many of which are like stop gaps.”

This was the submission of the President of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) and Chairman, House Committee on National Planning Commission, Bethel Amadi during the NPC’s budget defence before the panel at the weekend in Abuja.

Specifically, Amadi stressed the need for the repositioning of the commission to meet the current global realities, and stressed on the need to strengthen institutions rather than individuals.

“Many of us here (in the House) are agonised at the amount of resources given to the commission with such a large role. We are of the strong belief that you deserve more than the resources being given to you if you are to truly determine the growth pattern of our economy, implement and as well play your monitoring and evaluation  role effectively.

“This is why we have hundreds of uncompleted projects , most of which are very  critical to our economy . We know the ministry has been taken over by the finance ministry, but again we want to emphasise that the planning commission must be repositioned if the country is to achieve the desired change.

“We need to build strong institutions and not strong men and women.  Powers and  authorities should  reside in institutions and not  individuals,” the committee chairman added.

Meanwhile, the committee commended the commission for the modest achievements despite the limited resources at its disposal, and assured that the panel would “as partners in progress” ensure the NPC gets the right funding to carry out its mandate.

Earlier, the Minister for National Planning and Vice chairman of the NPC, Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, had pleaded with the parliament to facilitate the appropriation of more funds to the commission to enable it realise its core mandate of formulating, implementing and monitoring/evaluation of policies and projects.

The minister who described last year’s appropriation as “ridiculous and release insignificant”,  also noted that non compliance with budget allocation by various sectors had remained the major hindrance to the nation’s development.

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