Senator decries government’s poor funding of 2017 budget
The Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Gbenga Ashafa, has decried Federal Government’s poor funding of the 2017 Budget.
Speaking the Senate plenary yesterday on the 2018 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, he argued that the budget could not be discussed without reference to the previous ones.
His words: “In 2016, the size of the budget was N6.07 trillion while that of 2017 was N7.2 trillion, now it is projected that the 2018 budget will be N8.6 trillion, about 16 per cent higher than last year’s estimates.
“With just about N450 million released out of the N2.1 trillion capital expenditure in the 2017 budget is currently performing below 40 percent level. The capital component of the 2018 budget is set at about N2.428 billion.
“While it is okay to have a large budget or increase in the size of the budget, it is more important to ensure that it should be adequately funded. The challenge of the 2017 budget has remained the lack of funding of most agencies. This must be prevented in the 2018 cycle.”
Ashafa added that although the Federal Government was short of funds for a major part of 2017, certain important agencies of government with capital and infrastructure projects that affect majority of Nigerians would have been prioritised.
“It was inappropriate for the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to have received N800 million out of N25 billion and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) received N500 million out of a Capital Appropriation of N11 billion. This is not good enough,” he added.
He also highlighted the slow procurement process by some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for capital projects in the 2017 Appropriation Act, a situation he, again, linked to poor funding.
He, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the amendments to Procurement Act, as passed by the National Assembly stating that: “One of cardinal amendments of the Procurement Act, is to reduce the time spent on the procurement process substantially in order to expedite the award of contracts and speed up the process of governance.”
In spite of these observations, Ashafa, however commended President Buhari for being sensitive to the plight Nigerians by ensuring the completion and introduction of rail projects, which he said, would ultimately touch every part of the country.