The Senate yesterday described the implementation of the 2012 budget as ‘very poor’ and threatened to tackle the executive arm of government over the issue. An interactive session scheduled with members of the Federal Executive Council was postponed yesterday due to the absence of the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who had been invited to explain, among other issues, her claim that the Federal Government had implemented 56 per cent of the budget.
The House of Representatives had earlier in the week put the level of implementation at 34 percent. But the Senate yesterday said documents from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation shows that only 21. 56 percent of the budget had been implemented.
The finance minister, who was invited by the Senate but failed to turn up for the second time yesterday, is also to explain insinuations by the executive that implementation of the appropriation act was being hindered by the constituency projects which the National Assembly built into the document.
Yesterday, a delegation of the Federal Executive Council led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, was turned back by the Senate and asked to return tomorrow (Thursday) with the finance minister or the Senate will be forced to summon her.
“I have the mandate of my colleagues to adjourn this public hearing to enable the minister of finance to show up. So, this public hearing is adjourned to 1.00pm on Thursday and the minister for finance is expected to be here no matter the circumstance. So, we have to do everything possible to get here on Thursday by 1pm,” Deputy Senate President Ike Ikweremadu said.
The Deputy Senate President who represented the Senate President, David Mark, at the hearing of the Senate Joint Committees on Appropriation, Finance and Public Accounts, said the pace of implementation of the 2012 budget would not be condoned.
He said: “We had expected the minister of finance to be here today (yesterday) because she is central to all that we are going to discuss. This matter was supposed to be discussed last week, but the minister was unavoidably absent. We learnt that she went to Asaba to declare open, a SURE- Programme. We consider our meeting with her on the issue that has to do with budget implementation to be more important than any other assignment.
“Today, (yesterday) we have also been told that she has gone to London to represent the president on an investment forum for which we know there are other ministers and government officials that could as well have done that to enable her to be here with us this afternoon. So it is regrettable that she is not here.”
“Over the years, we’ve had this issue of non-implementation of budget, and the reason or whatever reason they give surrounds the area of National Assembly inputs. So, we decided that we were going to make minimal input if there’s need to make any input at all.
On this basis, we returned the budget the way it came and even when we identified the areas on which some adjustments needed to be made, we had to bend over at the risk of being accused of tampering with the budget to ensure that they received the it the way and manner they wanted it so that the implementation would be much more easier.”
“Unfortunately, the level of implementation has been anything less than commendable and that’s why we are worried. One of the excuses we’ve read from the pages of newspapers for non performance of the budget is what they considered as the tinkering of the budget by the National Assembly. So, what we had wanted to do today is to hear from the executive what that tinkering is.
“It is not enough for the executive or the Minister of Finance to accuse us of tampering with the budget. Now the stage is set, but the minister is not here and we are worried about it. So, it will be absolutely impossible for us to do this dialogue with the absence of the coordinating minister for the economy.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Senate Joint Committees on Appropriation, Finance and Public Accounts, Senator Mohammed Ahmad Maccido (PDP, Sokoto) described as far cry from the truth the claimed by the Finance Minister that the 2012 budget had been 56 percent implemented.
“This interactive session is for us to the constraints to the implementation of the 2012 Appropriation Act. We are at a loss because record available to us from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation shows 21.56 percent implementation, while that of the finance minister is 56 percent. We are not happy about this”, Maccido said. Health Minister Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu had, on Monday said the insistence of new members of the National Assembly to initiate constituency projects in their names, rather than continue with projects in the names of the their predecessors, was hindering the execution of the 2012 budget.
Meanwhile, a document from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation has shown 12.16 percent of the actual utilisation of N184 billion against the total capital allocation of N1.5 trillion of the 2012 budget. The document, available at the disposal of the Senate Joint Committees on Appropriation, Finance and Public Accounts, puts the total releases as of July 20, 2012 at N401.6billion; utilization, N184.8billion; and the amount cash-backed, N324.56billion out of the total capital allocation of N1.519 trillion.
According to the document, “The performance of 56.95 percent as indicated by the Office of the Accountant-General is the percentage of the amount utilized (N184billion) of the amount cash-backed (N324billion) as as 20th July, 2012, not of the entire capital budget”.
“The actual utilization of N184 billion against the total capital of N1.5trillion is 12.16%”, the document read. The document puts Niger Delta Ministry’s releases at N39.07 billion, utilisation, N37.5billion; National Security Adviser Office’s releases, N29.8billion, utilisation, N17.5billion; Health Ministry’s releases, N25billion, utilisation, N9.2billion; Power Ministry’s releases, N21.5billion, utilisation, N7.3billion; Transport Ministry’s releases, N15.3billion, utilisation, N9.2billion; FCTA’s releases, N17.29billion, utilisation, N12.5billion; Defence Ministry’s releases, N14.36billion, utilisation, N9.9billion; Agriculture Ministry, N13.89billion, N8.9billion; Water Resources, N10.57billion, N5.45billion; Housing Ministry’s releases, N6.7billion, utilisation, N1.4billion; the Presidency’s releases, N5.09billion, utilisation, N1.92billion; SGF’s releases, N6.17billion, utilisation, N4.28billion; Youth Development Ministry’s releases at N1.05billion, utilisation, N488.6million; Police Affairs: N486.7million, N1399.9million; Police Formation: N2.8billion, N2.16billion; Education: N17.2billion, N6.8billion; and so on.
Senate threatens showdown with Federal Government over budget