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National Assembly’s reworking of 2020 budget allegedly threatening 12-month cycle

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Budget Defence Meeting. Photo: FINMINIGERIA

Pressure to rework the 2020 budget and make it more impactful on development projects for the betterment of Nigerians is allegedly threatening the quest of the National Assembly to restore the financial document to its January to December life cycle.

Consequently, lawmakers have insisted that issues that have rendered past and budgets ineffective be addressed before the passage of the current fiscal document.

Checks by The Guardian indicated that many legislators were disappointed by the performances of past budgets especially that of 2019, which in their reckoning, performed below average in vital sectors like water, health, education, and agriculture.

According to them, a “very worrisome dimension is that despite poor budgetary votes to these key sectors, the government had developed the poor political will to release the money for the projects so budgeted for.”

In separate interviews, the parliamentarians also frowned on the failure of the executive arm to “adhere to the federal character principle in implementing the budget with respect to some key projects.”

Senator Sam Egwu noted with disappointment that his home state of Ebonyi was “largely ignored in many areas,” adding it was not recognised in capital budget implementation.

The ex-governor disclosed that even in the 2020 budget proposal, projects in his state were not considered.

In his remarks, Senator Adamu Aliero noted that in the water resources sector, no money was released for key projects in the last three years even though they were captured in the budgets.

He regretted that the government was allowing important projects like irrigation projects to be abandoned.

Similarly, Senator Lekan Mustapha (APC, Ogun State) described the envelope system of budgeting in which very insignificant allocation is given to very important projects as disastrous to the quest for meaningful development in the country.

Another lawmaker who chairs a very strategic committee central to the economy told The Guardian that the work at hand required more of a complete overhaul of the budget 2020 bill.

Besides, the upper legislative chamber has deplored the “use of different exchange rates aside from the N305 to the dollar by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fund some road projects across the country.”

Resultantly, the Senate Committee on Finance has invited the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to provide an explanation on the matter.

The panel chair, Solomon Adeola, who spoke yesterday, claimed that his committee had found out that the apex bank used the strange exchange rates for three key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) being funded by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) nationwide.


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