Senate considers bill on allocating 20% of budgets to constituency projects
The Senate yesterday concluded debate on a bill seeking to allocate at least 20 percent of annual budgets to constituency projects across the country. Passing the second reading of the bill sponsored by Senator Stella Oduah (PDP, Anambra) the Senate asked its Finance Committee to subject the Bill to further legislative work and report back within four weeks.
Constituency projects have been the subject matter of regular face-offs between the legislature and the executive since 1999. For many years, the National Assembly had accused the executive of lack of diligence in the implementation of constituency projects. However, the new bill seeks to ensure that specific portions of federal annual budgets were devoted to the constituencies for the development of infrastructure, wealth creation and fight against poverty.
The new bill, titled, “Constituency Projects (Budgetary Provisions) Bill, 2019 (SB170),” initiated to proffer permanent solution to infrastructure deficits in gthe country, was first introduced to the Senate during the Bukola Saraki -led Senate, but failed to pass. Leading debate on the bill yesterday, Oduah explained that as from the commencement of the Act, there should be a provision for constituency projects in the Annual Budget of the Federation by a minimum of 20 percent. She said the number of schemes to be included in the constituency projects submission form should be a minimum of five and a maximum of 20 per constituency each financial year. She added that a joint project might be constructed for the benefit of two or more constituencies subject to approval of the National Assembly in those constituencies.
On the object and purpose of the Act, the bill stated that, “The provisions of the Act shall apply, as more specifically provided for in the Act, and shall ensure that specific portion of the federal annual budget is devoted to the constituencies for the purposes of infrastructural development, wealth creation and the fight against poverty at the constituency level.
“The list of proposed constituency projects to be covered by the Act shall be submitted by the member of the National Assembly representing that constituency. The member shall submit the project proposal to the Appropriation Committee for input into the budget.“The list of projects shall be submitted on the Standard Constituency Projects submission form set out in the Schedule to this Bill. All Projects to every Constituency shall be listed in the form together with the amount allocated to such a project. For every project listed in the form there shall be attached a Standard Project Description Form set out in the schedule to this Act,” among others. Oduah, who argued that the projects must be community-based, said, “Projects under this Act shall be community-based to ensure that the prospective benefits are available to the people of the host communities. It was learnt that the bill would be merged with a similar one earlier sponsored by former Senate Leader Muhammed Ali Ndume, which had sought special funding for constituency projects.
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