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NASS flays poor funding for capital projects in budget

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Segun Olaniyi, Abuja
03 March 2017   |   4:27 am
The National Assembly Joint Committee on Appropriation yesterday expressed disappointment at the poor funding for the 2016 capital project provided for in the 2016 budget.

National Assembly Complex Abuja.

The National Assembly Joint Committee on Appropriation yesterday expressed disappointment at the poor funding for the 2016 capital project provided for in the 2016 budget.

The disclosure by the Director-General in charge of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze that out of the N1.587 trillion appropriated for capital projects in the 2016 budget, only 870 billion has been released so far annoyed the joint committee, which had summoned stakeholders in budget implementation regarding the level of implementation of the capital aspect of the 2016 budget so far.

When Akabueze said the Federal Government had achieved 55 per cent of funding for the capital budget, lawmakers disagreed. Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, had told the committee that “One critical aspect of budget implementation that concerns the office of the Accountant General of the federation is that of release as appropriated and as approved.

He said “for personnel we spent N1. 482 trillion. Our record also shows that total capital payment released for 2016 as at today, is N870 billion.”

Akabueze had also stated that government had achieved 100 per cent performance in statutory transfer as well as debt service of N1.3 trillion.
Also, the Budget office DG said government had fully released the N113.440 billion voted for transfer to sinking fund.

Akabueze had said that 85 per cent of funding has been achieved for overheads in Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) but the panel noted that its investigation showed that only about 65 per cent funding for MDAs regarding overhead cost was achieved.

Akabueze explained that the failure to fund the capital budget arose from the fact that government was not able to realise the N1.506 trillion it had expected from internally generated revenue adding that there was a shortfall of N1.1trillion from this aspect of national revenue.”

The committee also wanted to know if the loan taken was used to finance budget for overhead and capital? The DG budget said “Until the 2016 budget life lapses at the end of March, we cannot make that determination”

The committee also expressed anger at the absence of the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele from the meeting.
Chairman of the joint committee, Danjuma Goje, had explained that the meeting was called to update Nigerians on the implementation of 2016 budget.

“We have left the serious business of producing the 2017 budget to invite these key officials to brief us on the performance of the 2016 budget. So, the CBN governor has no reason not to be here. He could not even call. He did not send a deputy governor but only an acting director.
“We are sending the acting director, Mohammed El- Yakubu to go because he is not competent to answer questions. Nigerians deserve to know how their economy is managed,’’ he stated.