Government begins release of 2016 budget funds today
Lagos-Calabar rail project, N100b constituency funds now in fiscal plan
The Federal Government begins the implementation of the 2016 budget today as it releases funds to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for the execution of their projects. To ensure that funds are duly utilised, the government has ordered the MDAs to produce their projects’ execution reports monthly.
This was disclosed yesterday by Budget and National Planning Minister, Udoma Udo Udoma, at the breakdown of the N6.07 trillion budget yesterday in Abuja . Udoma declared that in order to commence the implementation of the plan which already is in the middle of the second quarter, the release of capital votes to MDAs would commence today to cover lost grounds. He was, however, silent on the amount to be released.
It was also learnt yesterday that the compromise brokered to resolve the face-off between the executive and the legislature over the budget succeeded because it accommodated the interests of both arms of the government.
Udoma revealed that in the Appropriation Act assented to by the president, the controversial N60 billion Calabar – Lagos Coastal Rail project which the National Assembly reportedly expunged from the fiscal plan was finally restored, while the legislature’s N100 billion constituency projects fund which the executive had pruned to N60 billion has equally been restored to N100 billion.
Also at the budget breakdown were Minister of State for Budget, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Ministers of Finance (Mrs. KemiAdeosun); Niger Delta, (Pastor Uguru Usani); Labour (Dr. Chris Ngige) and Solid Minerals Development (Dr. Kayode Fayemi).
Although Udoma said the 2016 Appropriation Act had empowered the executive to run a full blast 12 months cycle, terminating next May 2017, the administration may reset the implementation calendar to its original plan between January and December which is the best time for projects execution.
He said: “The Federal Executive Council (FEC ) has approved an implementation strategy plan towards the path of sustainable development. Henceforth, MDAs are to produce monthly implementation reports to the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and will be collated and published on a quarterly basis on the ministry’s website. The essence of this is to ensure transparency and monitor implementation.
“We also already have in place professional independent monitoring and evaluation experts in addition to other different groups that will be tracking and evaluating the implementation of the budget to measure the funds released to MDAs and the impact such amount spent has on the people. For instance, we would like to measure the impact of a health centre that is built but not furnished and equipped with well-trained medics that should provide the services expected of the health centre.
“Let me reiterate that government is committed to ensuring effective implementation of this budget. However, the capital envisaged in this budget, large though, represents only a part of the spending to meet our ambitious plans for Nigeria. To develop this economy, we will need the active involvement of the private sector. We would therefore like to invite the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities that this government is creating to create the enabling environment. But it is the private sector that is the primary engine of this economy, working together, I have no doubt that we can turn this economy around,” the minister said.
According to Udoma, the reason the nation’s economy experienced a squeeze in 2015 despite viable plans to tackle the situation was low capital spending by the Federal Government.
“Failure to achieve projected oil production level due to destruction of oil pipelines,fall in price of crude,oil theft, among other things, contributed to shortage of funds for the execution of the 2015 budget. Out of the about 30% allocation to capital expenditure,only about 11% was covered.This very much explains poor performance of the economy in 2015”, the minister said.
He noted that out of about 30% budgeted for capital expenditure last year,only about 11% was spent due to cash crunch.Special Adviser to the President on Planning, Ben Akabueze, who described the 2016 budget as a deficit budget due to funds paucity said, however, that the fiscal plan would create strong impact on the economy through fiscal discipline.
Akabueze stressed also that fiscal discipline by MDAs is highly required to meet target of the 2016 budget,just as he said that timely release of funds must be ensured to facilitate development.
Ahmed, in her address, gave an overview of how the Federal Government hoped to disburse the N500 billion Special Intervention Fund promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as captured in the 2016 budget.
She stressed that the entire intervention funds would be spread across five thematic areas, namely job creation, school feeding, conditional cash transfers, scholarships and enterprise programme support.