2020 capital budget implementation worries National Assembly

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The leadership of the National Assembly on Monday expressed concern over the low implementation of the 2020 budget despite the three-month extension granted the executive arm of government to implement the capital component of the fiscal document up till March 2021.

The leadership of the parliament stated this during a meeting with the Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, at the Senate wing of the National Assembly Complex.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said implementation level of the 2020 capital budget component was in spite of the three months’ extension by the National Assembly aimed at ensuring optimal growth and development.

He noted that the essence of the extension of the budget would have been lost if, a few weeks to the end of the extension, the implementing agencies were yet to record significant implementation of the budget.

The speaker said, “The leadership of the National Assembly is basically carrying out an oversight on the extension that we have granted for three months.

“You are all aware that for good reason, we have this extension. There was COVID-19 last year as it affected the budget process and we have to extend the implementation to enable the minister and her team to achieve some level of implementation throughout last year.

“Now we are about four weeks to the end of that extension and we do not seem to know where we are, where we stand, that we need to do.

“I learnt that there are certain delays some of them deliberate for whatever reason.

“I am not going to mince words about it. That is why we called for this meeting; otherwise, there would not have been need for it.”

The Minister of Finance said only 30 per cent implementation had been achieved in the three months’ extension.

She, however, said the nation achieved 89 per cent implementation in the 2020 budget as of December 31 last year.

She said, “I am afraid to say that the extended component of the 2020 budget has reached 30 per cent implementation.”

Ahmed said the nation had technically exited recession following the level attained by the country in the implementation of the 2020 budget.

She said fresh updates and tracking of the budget implementation would enable her ministry attain a higher level of implementations before March next year.

Reacting to a question on the issue of the gap between the official exchange rate and the black market, Ahmed said, “It is unreasonable to think that the official exchange rate could be at par with the black market.”

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, expressed confidence that the Ministry of Finance would achieve 100 percent implementation of the 2020 budget before March 31.

Source:  PUNCH.

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