National: Buhari unhappy about National Assembly alteration of 2018 budget

National: Buhari unhappy about National Assembly alteration of 2018 budget

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said he was not pleased the country’s lawmakers altered the 2018 spending plan he sent to them for approval.

He said he may remedy the situation through a supplementary and/or amendment budget.

The budget, estimated at N8.26 trillion, was presented to the National Assembly on November 7, 2017.

It was later increased to N9.12 trillion by the lawmakers, representing an increment of N508 billion, seven months after they got the document.

“I am however concerned about some of the changes @nassnigeria has made to the budget proposals I presented,” Buhari said.

“The logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that it is the Executive that knows & defines its policies and projects. Unfortunately, that has not been given much regard in what has been sent to me.”

Buhari accused the lawmakers of cutting funding up to N347 billion for 4700 projects. He said the National Assembly, instead, introduced a total of 6,403 projects amounting to N578 billion, some of which he said will be difficult to execute because they have not been properly “conceptualized, designed and costed”.

Many of the projects, according to Buhari, are critical to Nigeria’s economy and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation.

Some of the projects with reduced funding are listed below:

a. The provisions for some nationally/regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as Counter-part funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of 11.5 billion Naira.

b. Provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira.

c. The provision for Rehabilitation and Additional Security Measures for the United Nations Building by the FCT, Abuja was cut by 3.9 billion Naira from 4 billion Naira to 100 million Naira; this will make it impossible for the Federal Government of Nigeria to fulfil its commitment to the United Nations on this project.

d. The provisions for various Strategic Interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira.

e. The provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country were cut by 3 billion Naira at a time when securing our students against acts of terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.

f. The provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme was cut by 8.7 billion Naira.

g. At a time when we are working with Labour to address compensation-related issues, a total of 5 billion Naira was cut from the provisions for Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment.

h. The provisions for Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and Special Economic Zones/Industrial Parks, which are key industrialization initiatives of this Administration, were cut by a total of 14.5 billion Naira.

i. The provision for Construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira which will further delay the completion of this critical project.

j. The Take-off Grant for the Maritime University in Delta State, a key strategic initiative of the Federal Government, was cut from 5 billion Naira to 3.4 billion Naira.

k. About seventy (70) new road projects have been inserted into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. In doing so, the National Assembly applied some of the additional funds expected from the upward review of the oil price benchmark to the Ministry’s vote. Regrettably, however, in order to make provision for some of the new roads, the amounts allocated to some strategic major roads have been cut by the National Assembly.

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