Buhari Raises Concern Over 2018 Budget Irregularities
Buhari Raises Concern Over 2018 Budget Irregularities.
President Muhammadu Buhari has raised concern over the National Assembly’s injection of strange projects and sundry irregularities into the 2018 budget. He made the observation at the Presidential Villa, yesterday, as he signed the appropriation bill of N 9.12 trillion into law, after seven months of delay. He accused the legislators, saying they “made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.”
President Buhari who regretted: “ Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation. Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualised, designed and costed, and will therefore be difficult to execute.”
“As it is, some of these projects relate to matters that are the responsibility of the states and local governments, and for which the Federal Government should therefore not be unduly burdened.” Giving instances of the cuts, Buhari said: “ The provisions for some nationally / regionally strategic infrastructure projects such as counterpart funding for the Mambilla Power Plant, Second Niger Bridge/ancillary roads, the East – West Road, Bonny- Bodo Road, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and Itakpe- Ajaokuta Rail Project were cut by an aggregate of N11.5 billion.
“Similarly, provisions for some ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the FCT, Abuja, especially major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of N 7.5 billion. The provisions for various strategic interventions in the health sector such as the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti- retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of N7.45 billion.
Buhari also expressed concern over the Assembly’s increase of the provisions for Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of N73.96 billion. He said “most of the increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance. “An example of this increase is the budget of the National Assembly itself, which has increased by N 14.5 billion, from N125 billion to N139. 5 billion, without any discussion with the executive. ”
Buhari said he decided to sign the budget “in order not to further slowdown the pace of recovery of our economy, which has doubtlessly been affected by the delay in passing the budget.” He expressed his “intention to remedy some of the most critical of these issues through a supplementary and/ or amendment budget” which he hoped the National Assembly would “expeditiously consider.”
The president praised the successful implementation of the 2017 budget, saying a total of N 1.5 trillion was released for capital projects during the fiscal year with significant improvement in the performance of the economy. He said his administration was set to achieve the laudable objectives of the 2018 budget, while working hard to generate the revenues required to finance the government ’s projects and programmes.