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Budget as a Tool of Underdevelopment

Budget as a Tool of Underdevelopment

Former Chairman, House Appropriation Committee, Hon Abdumumn Jibrin

SIMON KOLAWOLE LIVE

In 2011, a brilliant, fine gentleman from the south-south was elected into the Nigerian senate. He was full of hopes and dreams. At a dinner with journalist friends, he outlined his vision and spoke enthusiastically about pursuing “developmental legislative agenda”.

He would make a difference, he promised. Two months after inauguration, the senator came to see his friends in Lagos with his tail between his legs. He said in a defeated voice: “If development is this way (he pointed forward), we are facing this direction (he pointed backward). Since our inauguration, all we have been discussing is money, money, money. It is all about our individual account balances.”

I recalled this story as controversy broke out over President Muhammadu Buhari’s protest that the 2018 budget was severely distorted by the lawmakers with the reduction in allocations to priority projects and addition of over 6,000 new projects. The lawmakers also allocated nearly N140 billion to themselves which, God willing, will be disbursed to the last kobo since it is a first-line charge on the federation account. However, the lawmakers have stoutly defended themselves and sought to justify the alterations. They said the changes were meant to reflect “federal balance”. After listening to both parties, I am still inclined to join issues with the national assembly.

Let us first settle some arguments. One, the national assembly has the power of appropriation. The executive proposes and implements budgets but the legislature must first approve through appropriation. It is in the spirit of checks and balances. Two, the national assembly is not a rubber stamp. It is not as if the executive will send a budget to the legislature and they will just stamp it. Under military regimes, the executive and legislature were one. They were at various times known as the Supreme Military Council, Armed Forces Ruling Council and Provisional Ruling Council. They did everything at once. We always had the budget approved by January 1 every year.

Three, the representation function of the parliament comes into bold relief in the budgeting process. While the president is representing the whole country, legislators represent individual constituencies, and they have a responsibility to factor in the interests of their constituents —and in a way balance the national and the local. Four, the constitution empowers the national assembly to make laws for “peace, order and good government of the federation”. Appropriation offers a powerful opportunity for them to do this. I don’t think we need to be arguing over this. It is therefore logical and legal for the lawmakers to make inputs into the budget in the national interest.

In the national interest? Now, this is where the problem begins. Does the national assembly do anything in the national interest? This is where the argument starts. The parliament has three primary responsibilities: one, representation; two, lawmaking (including appropriation); and three, oversight. These powers are so awesome that if they were properly and patriotically exercised by the lawmakers, Nigeria would have been a much better place. Just imagine all the appropriations to infrastructure, education, health and water from 1999 till date; just imagine a proper parliamentary oversight function; and just imagine how Nigeria would have been transformed.

Based on my observations since 1999, I can safely conclude that the motive behind most budget alterations is anything but national interest. When Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, two-time minister of finance, said in her book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous, that the national assembly was “bribed” with N17 billion to pass the 2015 budget, some lawmakers raised hell. They deliberately interpreted that to mean bribe was shared among lawmakers, but they knew what she was saying: the executive had to allow the legislature to add that amount to its own budget before the bill was passed. That was the deal maker. This year, lawmakers added N14.5 billion to their budget. Nothing new.

When the president sends the appropriation bill to the national assembly, committees invite chief executives and accounting officers of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to defend their proposals. This is usually at a high cost. Some sessions are televised live. Refreshments are served. Precious time is spent on budget defence. After the whole show when some form of agreements might have been reached, the budget goes to the appropriations committees which then, in a dictatorial manner, begin to alter the budgets. The figures are usually allocated arbitrarily. So why waste time and resources on useless budget defence sessions? What’s the value?

Has anyone ever wondered why the executive will propose a budget of N8.612 trillion with a crude oil benchmark of $45 per barrel and the parliament will raise the benchmark to $51 and increase the budget to N9.12 trillion? Setting a lower benchmark is a wise way of saving in the excess crude account so that when the rain comes falling — as it certainly must do cyclically — we will have something to fall back on. It is common sense to create a fine balance between the need to spend and the need to save so that we do not witness the kind of calamity that befell us between 2014 and 2017 again. A prudent parliament will always consider this fact with a sense of responsibility.

Has anyone also ever wondered why despite all the budget defence by the MDAs, the budget still comes out heavily distorted? The idea of budget defence, which usually goes on for months, is for the executive and the legislature to consider the fine details and arrive at some compromise. Budgets are prepared based on the policies and programmes of a government. The executive has its priorities and goals. So, for all those things lawmakers are unilaterally inserting into the budget, how did they do the costing? They do not execute projects so how did they arrive at those figures? What is the basis for cutting down on priority projects?

Truth be told: while the executive is not blameless, our legislators have turned budgeting to an instrument of blackmail to further personal interests. Budgeting is seen as harvest season. I don’t know if this culture still persists, but the MDAs used to be extorted by the lawmakers ahead of their budget defence in order to facilitate “smooth” passage. When Professor Fabian Osuji was minister of education in 2005, his otherwise sterling reputation was destroyed when lawmakers extorted N55 million from him for “smooth” passage of his ministry’s budget. Some of the criminals went on to become governors and some are today party executives. So it goes.

It is no secret that if the MDAs can “settle” lawmakers very well, their budgets will be increased beyond their wildest dreams. For example, an agency would propose a budget of N10 billion and the lawmakers would promise to increase it to N20 billion if they can “settle” in advance. The increase will be presented as “national interest”. That is one of the reasons the budgets are always bloated every year. They extort during budget defence, extort during oversight function and extort from contractors. In some instances, they will even insist on bringing the contractors for the projects. I don’t know if these practices have stopped but that used to be the untold story.

The lawmakers actually need to examine their consciences. They have turned the concept of separation of powers upside down. They prepare their own budgets and refuse to release the details to the public. How can you perform oversight function on your own budget? Does that make sense, fellow Nigerians? It took a courageous Senator Shehu Sani to reveal to the world that senators legally take home over N13 million a month. Up till today, the house of reps has not told us how much they take home every month. National interest indeed! The lawmakers have over the years successfully arm-twisted us into accepting the so-called constituency projects.

The bigger picture we are not seeing, however, is that as it is in Abuja, so it is in the states and local governments. We focus our attention on Aso Rock and national assembly, but these shenanigans are replicated at local level. Budgets are padded and ballooned. Non-existent projects are “funded” and money shared by those who matter. MDA executives and state lawmakers are having fun with public funds and there is nobody to question them. The controllers of public discourse in Nigeria are more interested in “true federalism” as defined by them; they deliberately ignore the bazaar going on under their noses in their states and councils. So it goes.

The underdevelopment of this country is not accidental. We cannot continue to do things this way and expect progress. At some point the political elite will have to repent. If half of the budget for education or healthcare or roads actually goes into what it is theoretically meant for, we would have overcome most of our daunting challenges by now. If leadership is driven by competence and patriotism, all the oil windfalls since 1999 would have meant something more than ballooning overhead expenditure and distorting the budget for personal benefit under the pretext of “national interest”. I hope that one day, our leaders at all levels will change their ways.

===AND FOUR OTHER THINGS====

UNEQUAL OPPORTUNITY

So many things sadden me about Nigeria, and one of them just manifested in the proposed training of railway engineers in China. The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) had said it would provide scholarships for Nigerian students but, as things turned out, it is only on paper. Applicants who do not have godfathers were shocked to realise on the day of interview that only those nominated by powerful Nigerians were allowed inside. This country continues to kill the spirit of its citizens. This is why resentment and frustration set in. How do you expect these young men and women to believe in Nigeria? We run an unfair system. Depressing.

GESTAPO STYLE

Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe was arrested on Friday. The general belief is that he was picked up by the Department of State Services (DSS). Typically, DSS would neither confirm nor deny. It does not have a spokesperson. We don’t know why he was picked up; we can only speculate. This is very disturbing. If a senator can disappear in this manner, what is the hope for ordinary Nigerians? If DSS continues to operate this way, I hope this will not open the door to unexplained disappearances in Nigeria for which nobody will take responsibility. The DSS needs to modernise its mode of operation. It is one thing that scares me stiff about this Buhari administration. Alarming.

SORRY YARI

Alhaji Abdulazia Yari, the Abuja-based governor of Zamfara state, has finally told us what we knew all along — that he is not in charge of his state. Zamfara is arguably the state that has witnessed the most bloodshed in Nigeria in the last three years (it is not headline news because, frankly speaking, the politicians and their puppets cannot make a Muslim vs Christian business out of it). Yari says he is giving up his position as the chief security officer of the state. Except he refunds all the security votes he has collected since 2011 and stops collecting more henceforth, we will continue to regard him as the CSO of Zamfara. This has nothing to do with fornication. Incompetence.

AND FINALLY…

Who said “success has many fathers but failure is an orphan”? The person deserves a Nobel for wise saying, if there is any such category. After Nigeria lost to Croatia at the FIFA World Cup, I saw videos on social media showing angry fans burning the beautiful Nigerian jersey. And then we bounced back and beat Iceland on Friday — and suddenly the Super Eagles are the best thing since pounded yam with egusi and bush meat. Hearty congratulations to Ahmed Musa, the two-goal hero. Within minutes after the match, memes of Musa as the presidential candidate of APGA were already trending! More heroics and we will nominate him to be UN secretary-general. Ecstasy.

Culled from ThisDay

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Presidency faults National Assembly on mutilation of 2018 budget

Presidency faults lawmakers’ claims on budget distortion

By Augustine Ehikioya, Abuja

The Presidency yesterday faulted the decision of National Assembly to distort the 2018 Budget after N270 billion allocation was made for their constituency projects.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, while N100 billion was already provided for constituency projects in the 2018 Budget proposal, the executive also allowed additional N170 billion provision for the projects from the increased oil benchmark.

He said “Sequel to the response of the National Assembly justifying its distortion of the 2018 Budget, the following clarifications have become necessary.

“Throughout the budget consideration process the executive, through the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, was in touch with the National Assembly.

“The executive was approached by the National Assembly who indicated that they intended to increase the benchmark price by US$5, from US$45 to US$50. Out of the US$5 increase, the National Assembly informed the Executive that they intended to utilise US$2 (amounting to about N170 billion) for projects selected by themselves.

“They asked the Executive to suggest important projects that could be accommodated with the funds arising from the balance of US$3.

“After some consideration, the Executive was of the view that an increase in the benchmark price of crude oil to US$50 was not unrealistic, and the President decided to accept this in the spirit of compromise required for a successful budget exercise.

‘The Executive had, in that spirit, suggested that from the additional funds arising out of the US$3 increase, $1.25 from the increase should not be appropriated as expenditure but utilised to reduce the deficit in the budget.

“The Executive therefore restricted itself to submitting, for the consideration of the National Assembly, important items that could be funded from US$1.75 of the US$3 increase. NASS eventually raised the benchmark price to US$51, apparently to accommodate the additional allocations to Health and NDDC.

“The Executive is therefore surprised that with an additional sum of N170 billion available for the National Assembly to spend on constituency projects, together with the sum of N100 billion already provided for in the Budget, that the National Assembly should feel it necessary to cut allocations to important national projects, and thereby distort the Budget in order to further increase their allocation for Constituency projects. How much is enough!” he added

He said that the President’s position was clear from paragraph 12k of the President’s speech, where he said “About 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.”

Source: The Nation

Budget padding: National Assembly counters Buhari

Budget 2018: National Assembly faults Buhari’s claims

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Terhember Daka and George Opara, Abuja

• Says President Was Misinformed On Budgetary Figures
• Lawmakers’ Alterations Smack Of Greediness, Insists Presidency

The National Assembly said yesterday that the 2018 budget figures reeled out by President Muhammadu Buhari in respect of several projects were incorrect and misleading.

It declared that adjustments and reductions in the locations, costs and number of projects approved were made in order to address geo-political imbalances that came with the Executive proposal.

At a joint press conference addressed by spokespersons of the Senate, Aliu Sabi Abdullahi and his House of Representatives colleague, Abdul Razak Namdas, it was also pointed out that the introduction of new projects was done to ensure the promotion of the principles of Federal Character as contained in Section 14, subsection (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended which states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria…”

However, the presidency yesterday insisted that the lawmakers’ alterations demonstrated greediness and self-centredness. In a statement by presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina yesterday, the presidency said the lawmakers apart from increasing the oil benchmark for lawmakers’ interest, still cut funding for essential projects.

“The Executive is therefore surprised that with an additional sum of N170 billion Naira available for the National Assembly to spend on Constituency Projects, together with the sum of N100 billion Naira, already provided for in the Budget, that the National Assembly should feel it necessary to cut allocations to important national projects, and thereby distort the Budget, in order to further increase their allocation for constituency projects,” Adesina said.

The National Assembly further asserted that the projects had to be increased in order to give a sense of belonging to every geo-political zone of the country to ensure socio-economic justice, equity, fairness, and to command national loyalty. It insisted: “Within the context of the provisions of Sections 4, 80 and 81 of the Constitution, everything that the National Assembly has done is within its powers.”

“Furthermore, Chapter 2 of the Constitution emphasizes the need for balance, inclusivity, and equity in the distribution of national resources. The annual budget, which symbolises the distribution of these resources must reflect the aforementioned values, which we swore to uphold,” the NASS said.

Curiously, the National Assembly revealed that there was no existing contract for the construction of a second Niger Bridge.

The Assembly said: “Addressing the issue of the Second Niger Bridge project, apart from early works, as of today, there is no existing contract for the Second Niger Bridge in spite of frequent requests from the National Assembly. The N900million cut from the N10billion proposed by the Executive was deployed to fund ancillary roads that connect to the Bridge. It should again be noted that the N12.5billion and the N7.5billion appropriated for the Second Niger Bridge in the 2016 and 2017 budgets by the National Assembly were never utilized for the project.”

On the President’s claim that the National Assembly delayed in passing the Budget, the parliament noted that “although the budget was submitted in November, 2017, as at March 15, 2018 (five months and 8 days after the budget submission), Mr. President was still directing the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to compel the Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government to appear before the committees of the National Assembly to defend their respective budget. In addition, up till April (6 months after the budget submission), the Executive was still bringing new additions to the 2018 budget, which the National Assembly in good faith and in the spirit of collaboration and harmonious working relationship accepted.

“More importantly, the 2017 budget was signed into law on June 5, 2017 and by the provisions of Section 318 of the Constitution, which defines the Financial Year as “any period of 12 months beginning on the first day of January in any year, or other date as the National Assembly may prescribe” – the 2017 budget lapsed on the 5th of June 2018. This same provision is replicated in the 2017 Appropriation Act,” it said.

On the reductions made in some aspects of the budget, the National Assembly declared that, “the figures given by the President as amounts of the reductions made by the National Assembly were unduly exaggerated, as we did not make any substantial reduction on any project to the extent of affecting its implementation.

“It was stated that the legislature made cuts amounting to N347 billion which were meant for 4,700 projects. Again, these reductions of N347 billion were made from low priority areas to higher priority areas to support the generation of employment for our youth by MSMEs. We took the decision to reduce the funds in some areas in order to ensure balance and equity in the spread and utilization of our national funds,” the Assembly said.

Giving the exact detail of the projects where deductions were made, the lawmakers disclosed that the counterpart funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/Ancillary roads, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos-Ibadan Express Road and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project, was reduced by only N3, 956,400,290 -which represents only 1.78 per cent of the total N222, 569,335,924 submitted by the President. This left these projects with N218, 612,935,634 that cannot negatively affect their implementation. This obviously contradicts the claim that these projects lost “an aggregate of N11.5 billion,” they submitted.

Specifically, the National Assembly said “the counterpart funding for 3050mw Mambilla Hydropower Project was reduced from N8.5billion to N8.2billion (a reduction of N300million); the construction of the Second Niger Bridge including access roads phases’ 2a and 2b in Anambra and Delta states and other projects in the South East were reduced from N10billion to N9.1billion (a reduction of N900million).”

It continued: “The construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with a bridge across the Opobo channel in Rivers State was reduced from N10billion to N8.7billion (a reduction of N1.3billion) while funding for the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was reduced from N20billion to N18billion (a reduction of N2billion).”

The Assembly also disclosed that it increased the aggregate funding for the East-West Road from N11, 285,000,000 to N12, 085,000,000 because it realised the strategic importance of the road to the entire oil producing areas of the country and the fact that the road project has lingered for too long.

On the issue of the 104 Unity Schools across the nation and the claim by the President that N3billion was cut from their funding, the National Assembly disclosed that it actually provided an additional N3.7billion more for meal subsidies in these 104 Unity Schools.

Faulting President Buhari’s remarks on the alleged reduction of the funding for the construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport, the lawmakers said:
“it was claimed that the provision for construction of the Terminal Building at Enugu Airport was cut from 2 billion Naira to 500 million Naira and that this will further delay the completion of this critical project.

“However, for the avoidance of doubt, it is necessary to again clarify that during the budget defense and oversight processes, the National Assembly discovered that out of the N2billion contract for the Enugu Terminal Building, N1.7billion had already been paid to the contractor. And what is left to complete this project is just N300million. Hence, the National Assembly approved N500million for the project, which is even N200million more than was required.”

Source: The Guardian

Budget Padding: Court Orders President Buhari To Prosecute Senators

Budget Padding: Court Orders President Buhari To Prosecute Senators
By Adelanwa Bamgboye, Lagos |

Honourable Abdulmumini Jibrin

A Federal High Court in Lagos has directed that President Muhammadu Buhari should without further delay order security and anti-corruption agencies to forward to him (Buhari) reports of their investigations into allegations of padding and stealing of some N481 billion from the 2016 budget by some principal officers of the National Assembly.
Justice Mohammed Idris also mandated the President to ensure the prosecution of lawmakers over their alleged involvement in the stealing of a sum to the tune of N481bn from the 2016 budget.
The Court in his judgment delivered on Monday specifically asked President Buhari to, “Direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and/or appropriate anti-corruption agencies to without delay commence prosecution of indicted lawmakers.”
Justice Idris handed down the order of mandamus in a suit instituted by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The court also ordered President Buhari to, “Direct the publication of the report of investigations by security and anti-corruption bodies into the alleged padding of the 2016 budget.”
Justice Idris in the action initiated against the President of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, declared that in the exercise of his executive powers, President Buhari has a duty to ensure compliance with the provisions of article 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The court further held that President Buhari is “expected to use his executive powers for the public good of Nigeria.”
In his declaration, the judge granted an order directing Buhari to, “Urgently halt alleged attempt by some principal officers of the National Assembly to steal N40 billion of the N100 billion allocated by his government as ‘zonal intervention’ in the 2017 budget.
“To closely monitor and scrutinize the spending of N131 billion (accrued from increased oil bench mark) allocated for additional non-constituency projects expenditure, to remove the possibility of corruption.”
Justice Idris equally held that, “SERAP, being a human rights non-governmental organization has sufficient interest in the way and manner public funds are being utilized in this country.”
Article 22 of the African Charter provides that, “All peoples shall have the right to their economic, social and cultural development with due regard to their freedom,” and that “States shall have the duty, individually or collectively, to ensure the exercise of the right to development.”
In reacting to the judgment, the Deputy Director of SERAP, Timothy Adewale argued that, “This judgment confirms the pervasive corruption in the budget process and the prevailing culture of impunity of our lawmakers as well as the failure of the authorities to uphold transparency and accountability in the entire budget process and implementation.
“The judgement is an important step towards reversing a culture of corruption in the budget process that has meant that many of our lawmakers see the budget more as a ‘meal ticket’ to look after themselves than a social contract to meet people’s needs and advance equity and development across the country.
“This is a crucial precedent that vindicates the right to a transparent and accountable budget process and affirms the budget as government’s most important economic policy document, which is central to the realization of all human rights including the rights to health, water, and education.
“SERAP will do everything within its power to secure the full and effective enforcement of this important judgment.”
It would be recalled that SERAP last year filed the suit after the organization said it received “credible information from multiple sources that the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have completed investigations into the allegations of padding of the 2016 budget, completed their reports, and indicted some principal officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and that the accounts of some of the principal officers containing allegedly illicit funds have been frozen, and that the case files for the prosecution of those indicted were ready.”
The suit filed on SERAP’s behalf by its counsel, Mrs Joke Fekumo read in part: “Unless the principal officers indicted in the alleged padding of the 2016 budget are prosecuted and any stolen public funds recovered, the Federal Government will not be able to stop padding of future budgets.
“Alleged corruption in the budget process will not just melt away or simply evaporate without addressing the fundamental issue of impunity of perpetrators.
“Addressing alleged corruption in the budget process by pursuing prosecution of indicted principal officers of the National Assembly will provide an important opportunity for the Federal Government to reignite the fight against corruption and fulfil a cardinal campaign promise, to show that the Federal Government works on behalf of the many, and not the few, as well as jumpstart economic activities and break the back of the recession.
“Publishing the report of the investigation of the alleged padding of the 2016 budget, and prosecuting suspected perpetrators are absolutely important to avoid another padding, which the Federal Government can ill afford.
“The allegations of crime of budget padding against the indicted principal officers of the National Assembly is a gross deprivation of the good people of Nigeria’s legitimate wealth and natural resources.
“We respectfully urge your Lordship to hold that the citizens of Nigeria have been deprived of their natural wealth and the indicted principal members be prosecuted by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.

Culled from Daily Trust

We gave lawmakers N17bn to pass 2015 budget —Okonjo-Iweala

We gave lawmakers N17bn to pass 2015 budget —Okonjo-Iweala

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

Former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has revealed the blackmail and arm twisting that characterised budget passing by the National Assembly during the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.

She cited an instance in 2015 when the National Assembly leadership forced the executive arm to part with N17 billion for the federal lawmakers to pass that year’s budget.

That, she said, was at a time crude price had gone down drastically.

The N17 billion alleged bribe, according to Okonjo-Iweala in her book Fighting Corruption is Dangerous:The Story Behind the Headlines, was besides the NASS N150 billion annual ‘standard’ budget.

She described federal legislators as a tough political group to deal with.

Her words: “The legislature was concerned largely about three things—the size of its own budget; the nature and the size of the capital budget, particularly investment projects; and the number and geographical location of the projects.

“Senators and Representatives felt that their role as appropriators of the budget was not just to vet and approve budget parameters and oversee budget implementation, but also to shape the size and content of the budgets, including details of specific projects.”

She said members of the NASS Finance and Appropriation even felt ”they had the right–indeed the duty–to get into the details of the budget formulation and preparation process all along the budget value chain.”

The ex-minister said the NASS leadership, working through the various committees, “sought to add more to individual projects or create completely new, unappropriated major projects, thereby distorting the budget.”

But she explained that “not all National Assembly members supported these unfortunate manipulations of the budget.”

She added: “National Assembly members had negotiated large increases in the National Assembly budgets and would brook no discussions or challenges on the issue.

“Their operational budget had ballooned to N150 billion or 16 per cent of the budget and almost 3.5 times the 2006 budget (in naira).”

Okonjo-Iweala said when it was proposed that the lawmakers should give up some of their benefits in view of dwindling revenue in 2015, they bluntly refused to do so.

“By the time we presented the budget on December 16, 2014, oil prices had fallen further to $58 per barrel.

“We were prepared and we knew we had to trigger the additional expenditure and revenue measures in 2015 to make the budget work.

“This would be tough, given that we had entered an election year,” she said.

”Indeed, legislators initially refused to accept any cuts to their regular N150 billion budget, despite dwindling revenues.

“But eventually, they agreed to a 13 per cent cut against a backdrop of ministers accepting a voluntary 50 per cent cut to their basic salaries.

“In a tough session with the National Assembly’s ad hoc committee on the budget (made up of chairs of the Finance Committee and Appropriation Committee of both chambers and other leaders of the National Assembly), an additional N20 billion was re-introduced as election expenses for National Assembly members.

“We insisted the amount be dropped because it nullified the 13 per cent cut made to their statutory budget, but managed to reduce the N20 billion figure by only N3 billion to N17 billion.

“This became the price to pay to have the 2015 budget passed.”

Okonjo-Iweala was Jonathan’s finance minister from August 17, 2011 to May 29, 2015.

She had served in the same capacity in the Obasanjo government.

The Federal Government proposed to spend N4.454 trillion that year.

Lagos Assembly passes N1.046tn budget for 2018

Lagos Assembly passes N1.046tn budget for 2018

The Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday passed the state’s 2018 appropriation bill of N1,046tn into law.

The passage followed the adoption of the report and recommendations of the House Adhoc Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, headed by Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu.

The house approved N347. 039bn as the total recurrent expenditure from the consolidated revenue fund.

It also approved N699. 082bn as the total capital expenditure from the development revenue fund for the year ending Dec. 31, 2018.

Yishawu, while presenting the committee’s report, said that efforts should be made to reduce the total overhead cost of the state.

The lawmakers, who took turns to commend the nine-man ad hoc committee for a job well done, however, called for quick consideration of the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) scheme.

Hon. Setonji David, the Acting Chairman, House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development said: “there are so many arrangements going on in PPP that the house does not know about’’.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Muyiwa Jimoh, said that PPP should be on its own and not operate under any ministry.

The Speaker of the House, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, also commended Yishawu and members of the committee for thorough scrutiny of the budget within a short time frame.

The House passed the bill after Obasa conducted a voice vote on each of the sectoral allocations for ministries, departments and agencies.

Obasa directed the Acting Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, to send a copy of the bill to Gov. Akinwnmi Ambode for his assent.

Lagos presents N1.046trn budget for 2018 as Ambode unveils ‘Budget of Progress and Development’

Ambode presents N1.046trn budget for 2018

Posted By Miriam Ekene-Okoro

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Monday presented the Year 2018 Budget proposal of N1.046 trillion to the State House of Assembly.

Christened “Budget of Progress and Development”, Governor Ambode said the 2018 budget would be used to consolidate on the achievements recorded in infrastructure, education, transportation/traffic management, security and health sectors.

According to him, the Budget would also focus on mandatory capacity building for civil servants, all teachers in public secondary/primary schools, officers in the health service sector and women & youth empowerment alongside Medium and Small/Micro Size Entrepreneurs (MSMSE’s).

Explaining the key components of the budget, Governor Ambode said capital expenditure would gulp N699.082billion while N347.039billion would be dedicated to recurrent expenditure, representing a Capital/Recurrent ratio of 67 percent to 33 percent and a 28.67 percent increase over Y2017 budget.

The Governor said that despite the modest achievements recorded in 2017, there was still much work ahead, assuring that Government would not relent in its efforts to give Lagosians the best by way of continuous and efficient service delivery.

“Lagos has always been a trailblazer and we must consolidate on the economic gains made so far by initiating people-friendly programmes and projects that will attract more economic improvement in Y2018.

“It is our resolve in Y2018 to strive and complete all on-going projects in order to meet their specified completion period and embark on new strategic projects. We intend to improve on our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the face of the dwindling accruable revenue allocation from the Federal Government, sustain our vision on wealth creation and poverty alleviation,” Governor Ambode said.

The Governor also listed key projects captured in the 2018 Budget to include the Agege Pen Cinema flyover; alternative routes through Oke-Ira in Eti-Osa to Epe-Lekki Expressway; the 8km regional road to serve as alternative route to connect Victoria Garden City (VGC) with Freedom Road in Lekki Phase I; completion of the on-going reconstruction of Oshodi International Airport Road into a 10-lane road and the BRT Lane from Oshodi to Abule-Egba.

On infrastructural renewal, Governor Ambode said his administration remains committed to sustaining the tempo of continuous construction, rehabilitation, upgrading and maintenance of network of roads across the State including those within the boundary areas of Lagos and Ogun States and that the bus reform initiative would be consolidated with the introduction of high and medium capacity buses, construction and completion of bus depots at Oshodi, Anthony, Yaba and many others.

He also said the movement of Mile 12 market to Imota had reached an advanced stage and would be completed in good time to pave way for relocation next year.

The 181 Local Government Roads will be commenced as contractors will be mobilized immediately, as well as continuous gridlock resolution, junction improvement, construction of more laybys and advancement of signalization that will improve traffic congestion especially along the Lekki-Epe corridor.

Ambode said the Government would construct an ICT Focus Incubator Centre in Yaba, commence the development of Imota and Igbonla Light Industrial Park as well as the provision of additional small scale industrial estate at Shala, while the State Employment Trust Fund will disburse more funds to Lagosians to support business and stimulate the economy.

Governor Ambode also assured that his administration will vigorously pursue its planned direct intervention in the power value chain towards generating 3,000MW Embedded Power Programme within a three-year plan to achieving 24/7 power supply for the State, stressing that the challenge of inadequate power supply must be resolved for the economy to perform optimally.

He said within the 2018 fiscal year, the Government would continue to rekindle its efforts in the area of Tourism, Sports, Arts and Culture as well as embark on some major projects that would ensure that the State emerges as the hub for tourism, sports and entertainment.

He listed some of the projects to include completion of the five new Art Theatres; establish a Heritage Centre at the former Federal Presidential State House recently handed over to the State Government; build a world class museum between the former Presidential Lodge and the State House, Marina; fast-track construction of the proposed four new stadia in Igbogbo, Epe, Badagry and Ajeromi Ifelodun (Ajegunle) and complete the on-going Epe and Badagry Marina projects.

While acknowledging the cooperation and support received from Lagosians, members of the Business Community, Professional Bodies, Non-governmental Organizations and the State Civil Servants in years past, the Governor noted that the modest achievements by his administration within a short period couldn’t have been possible without residents who have been paying their taxes willingly and faithfully.

Giving a sectoral breakdown at a press briefing in Alausa, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade said General Public Services got N171,623bn, representing 16.41 percent; Public Order and Safety, N46.612bn, representing 4.46; Economic Affairs, N473,866bn, 45.30 percent; Environmental Protection, N54,582bn, representing 5.22percent while Housing and Community Amenities got N59,904bn, representing 5.73 percent.

Ashade also told journalists that Health sector got N92.676billion, representing 8.86percent; Recreation, Culture and Religion got N12.511billion, representing 1.20 percent; Education got N126.302billion representing 12.07percent, while Social Protection got N8.042billion representing 0.77percent.

The event was well attended by dignitaries in the State including members of the State Executive Council led by the Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, former Speakers of the Lagos State House of Assembly, members of the National Assembly from Lagos State, former Deputy Governors of the State, party chieftains, traditional rulers, religious leaders, among others.
Source: The Nation