Budget to wait another week over discrepancies
Highlights of the 2016 N6.06 trillion Federal Government Budget awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent have begun to emerge with indication that implementation of the spending plan would be enmeshed in controversy except there is a quick resolution between the executive and legislative arms of governments.
The presidential assent will wait until Buhari returns from his China trip, presidency sources disclosed yesterday.According to sources with in depth knowledge of what President Muhammadu Buhari submitted to the National Assembly as estimate and what returned as approved spending plan, certain key projects have been expunged and in their place new projects, which were never intended introduced with insufficient funds allocation made for them.
Key, according to the Presidency source, is the removal of the N60 billion coastal railway project from Calabar to Lagos proposed for the fiscal year while the legislators retained the Lagos-Kano project. The reason for the President’s planned trip to China tomorrow, according to Presidency sources, is to conclude negotiation for rail projects in the country. The removal of the project might scuttle the purpose of the visit.
The other noticeable alteration includes “the amount proposed for the completion of the Idu-Kaduna rail project which has reached an advanced stage and was reduced by N8.7bn, a development which will make it difficult for the project to be completed.
“The other fundamental area noticed was in respect of completion of ongoing road projects. While the executive had provided for the completion of all major road projects across the country, the National Assembly reduced the amounts provided and instead included new roads of which studies have not even been conducted. The amounts provided by the National Assembly for the projects can neither complete the on-going projects o new ones proposed. At the end of the year, no significant progress would have been made.
“The other is in the health sector. Proposals made for the purchase of essential drugs for major health campaigns like Polio and AIDs for which the store is fast depleting were removed, and the amounts allocated to provision of ambulance, which the Ministry did not ask for.
“It was also observed that certain provisions made in the areas of agriculture and water resources to further the Federal Government’s diversification project were either removed or reduced while the funds were moved to provision of rural health facilities and boreholes, for which provisions have been made elsewhere.”
Our sources maintained that because of these observations, the President has commenced engaging further with the leadership of the National Assembly to resolve them and hopes that it would be resolved for his assent by the time he returns from his trip to China.