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FG cautions MDAs against unapproved payments for constituency projects

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Mrs Habiba Lawal, Acting Secretary of the Government of the Federation.

GEM beneficiaries flay delay in disbursement of funds
Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Habiba Lawal, yesterday directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to seek approvals before making payments for constituency projects.

She said henceforth any MDA that violates this directive risks being invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), adding that contractors handling zonal intervention and constituency projects shall only be paid upon authorisation by her office.

Lawal made this known at the Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum on the Implementation of Zonal Intervention and Constituency Projects in Abuja yesterday.

The meeting was aimed at enhancing working relationship with partners in the implementation of zonal intervention and constituency projects.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties Office, William Alo, she warned that MDAs must refrain from making payments for constituency projects except with clearance from the office of the SGF.

“This is tax payers’ money that must be accounted for. A team from the office of SGF will visit the project and carry out due diligence and ensure it was done according to specifications before payment will be authorised.

“If you pay without clearance, it is embezzlement and corruption. This is government policy that we are duty bound to implement,” she added.

Lawal said President Muhammadu Buhari was interested in the timely execution of the projects which, she said, was in line with the administration’s Change Agenda, hence the resolve to verify, monitor and evaluate all the projects to ensure optimal value for money.

Speaking, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Constituency Outreach, Lawal Abubakar, stressed that constituency projects were meant to alleviate poverty and execute projects in communities usually overlooked in budgetary allocations.

Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, also said it was within the purview of the legislature to embark on projects that would benefit their constituencies that must have escaped those at the national level during budgetary appropriations.

Meanwhile, beneficiaries of the Growth and Employment (GEM) Equity Window, a grant scheme designed to support micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, have cried out over the delay in the disbursement of the funds.

The Federal Government, in partnership with the World Bank and Department For International Development (DFID) had in November 2015, launched the scheme, which caused wide jubilation across the country, particularly among the youths, who were supposed to be the major beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries of the scheme, which is being supervised by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, have therefore, urged the government to release the second tranche of the payment that was long overdue, to enable them revive their businesses that are on the verge of collapse.



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