From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
The crisis over the 2013 budget lingers, as federal lawmakers are reportedly angry with the Executive over the purported bungling of the N100 billion constituency projects meant for members of the National Assembly. It also emerged at the weekend that the Federal Government had allocated N971.138 billion for fuel subsidy in the 2013 budget. A sum of N888.1 billion was officially allocated in 2012.
The fuel subsidy allocation, as captured on page xvii of the Approved 2013 Budget signed by President Goodlcuk Jonathan on February 26 indicates that the N971.133 billion was for “domestic fuel subsidy (marketers) (carry-over from 2011 and 2012 provision for partial subsidy). The Presidency on Thursday said it had no plans to remove the subsidy on petroleum products. Presidential spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe, in a statement in Abuja said despite President Jonathan’s recent remark concerning subsidy removal, the administration, as a matter of policy, had no plans in that direction.
He reiterated that sufficient allocation for fuel subsidy had already been made in the 2013 budget. Meanwhile, Daily Sun gathered that the deal struck between the Presidency and the National Assembly was that constituency projects for federal lawmakers would be N100 billion. During the series of interactions on the budget between the Executive and the National Assembly, it was agreed that the implementation of the constituency projects should be centralized in one ministry, for once.
Therefore, based on that agreement, the two arms of government agreed that the constituency projects of lawmakers should be moved to the Ministry of Special Duties rather than scattered in several MDAs and the MDG Office as was the practice before now. And so, when the minister announced that the FG had taken control of the implementation of the constituency projects, bemused lawmakers wondered “why the executive made it seem as if the idea originated from them alone. In fact, we all agreed that for once, we will have a ministry to hold responsible for the failure or success of our constituency projects.”
But lawmakers are now vexed that some of their constituency projects were missing from the signed budget returned for amendment to the National Assembly last month. Because some of the projects were scattered among the various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), Senators and members of the House of Representatives had to individually comb the entire budget to ascertain that their projects were adequately captured in the budget.
Besides, lawmakers appear uninterested in amending the 2013 budget. The two Houses of the National Assembly are on a two-week plenary recess. Only committees are working right now with plenary scheduled to resume on April 16.