Lawmakers To Probe Poor Implementation Of National Budget

The House of Representatives will summon key ministers to explain the perennial problem

Oct 5, 2011 – Lawmakers To Probe Poor Implementation Of National Budget

The key government officials are to appear before the House of Representatives over the poor implementation of the national budget, in a somewhat annual tradition where lawmakers drub ministers for a perennial dismal implementation, and thereafter, not much improves.

The House, on Tuesday, said it will investigate the trouble with capital budget implementation which for the past years, have not exceeded 50 per cent.

Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation; Bright Okogwu; and Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Shamsudeen Usman, are to defend the so called selective implementation of budget, which lawmakers say have frustrated several key sub heads.

“We cannot afford to continuously and deliberately waste tax payers’ money in initiating laudable capital projects without executing them thereby retarding the growth and development of our economy as a nation,” said Patrick Ikhariale (Edo State, PDP).

The decision for the fresh inquiry was moved by Ikhariale on a day legislators received President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposal to reschedule several spending agreements from less important areas to pressing needs, under the legislative process of virement.

Federal budget implementation, for years, has remained a touchy subject between the executive arm and the National Assembly, with an annual performance rate hovering between 20 per cent and 50 per cent.

The executive has consistently blamed the difficulty on either revenue downturn or certain “unrealistic” budget padding effected by the lawmakers during appropriation.

Jonathan’s relatively early request for a resizing of the budget in June 2011 raised the expectations that the overall performance this year may differ.

But the House yesterday said that success figure stands currently at less than 40 per cent with barely three months to the end of the year.

The president said in a letter to the lawmakers that a new spending virement amounting to about N95 billion, will help redirect needed funds to critical sectors and hence speed up implementation.

“It is my hope that the virement proposal will go a long way in addressing some of the difficulties being encountered in the implementation f the 2011 budget and give focus to some of the key priorities of government,” he said.

The ministries and agencies to be affected in the exercise include: Niger Delta, Agriculture and Rural Development, Education, Justice, Health, Aviation, Lands, Housing and Urban Development. Also to be affected if approved by the National Assembly is Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and police formations and commands.

The National Assembly, had in March, passed a harmonised Appropriation Act of 4.9 trillion Naira for the 2011 fiscal year. Daily Times