Senate alleges poor budget implementation, summons Adeosun, Udoma
The Senate has invited the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, to brief it on the implementation of the 2017 Appropriation Act.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly, at the plenary on Tuesday, scored the Executive low on the implementation of the national budget, especially over inadequate release of funds for capital projects.
This was contained in a motion moved by Senator Gbenga Ashafa, titled: ‘Inadequate releases in the 2017 budget and the need to expedite releases in order to stimulate the economy’, which was adopted by the lawmakers.
The Senate unanimously adopted a prayer of the motion to “request that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Budget and National Planning appear before the Senate in plenary immediately to brief the Senate on the cause of the inadequate releases and steps being taken to expedite release of funds for the capital component of the 2017 Appropriation Act.”
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in his remarks on the motion, asked the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, to immediately write Adeosun and Udoma.
In another motion moved by Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, titled: ‘Stabilising and sustaining post-recession growth of the economy’, the Senate unanimously adopted the prayers, including to “urge the national economy managers to remain focused and ensure that the current weak growth of a mere 0.55 per cent is built upon and increased substantially in the months and years to come.”
The Senate also “urges the fiscal and monetary authorities to come together and harmonise fiscal and monetary policies, with a view to drastically reducing the high interest rates that have adversely affected borrowing for investment by the real sector of the economy.”
Also, the lawmakers urged the fiscal authorities to drastically reduce the accumulation of domestic debt in order to free the market for better access by the private sector.
Ashafa, while moving his motion, recalled that the 2017 Appropriation Bill was passed by the National Assembly on May 11, 2017 and was assented to by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on June 12, 2017.
He further recalled that the total size of the 2017 budget tagged: ‘Budget of Economic Recovery and Growth’, was N7.441tn, with a capital component of N2.177tn.
Ashafa said, “The Senate observes that according to the Budget Office of the Federation as published in the 2017 first quarter Budget Implementation Report, no fund was released for capital projects and programmes due to the extension of the 2016 capital budget implementation to May 5, 2017.
“The Senate is concerned that since the 2017 budget was assented to by the President, about N310bn has been released by the Federal Government to ministries, departments and agencies as funding for capital projects, which is far too low to stimulate the economy to address our present economic challenges.”
The lawmaker said that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in line with the prevalent concern of financial analysts, had stated during the Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the bank on July 25, 2017, that “the government needs to move quickly to start capital expenditure spending as contained in the 2017 budget to reflate the economy in a way that will impact Nigerians positively.”