•House probes afresh 2012 budget implementation
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, IHENACHO NWOSU and CHUKS AKUNNA, Abuja
With only 19 days to the end of 2012, the President yesterday asked the National Assembly for another N161,617,756,316.39 (N161.617billion) to settle outstanding fuel subsidy payments for the year even as the House of Representatives probes 2012 budget implementation afresh.
The executive had earlier ruled out a request for any supplementary budget. But a December 5 letter addressed to Senate President David Mark and Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal which was read at the Senate’s plenary yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the federal legislature to accord the request with the “traditional consideration and approval.”
The President explained that lawmakers should approve the N161.617 billion supplementary budget request so that Nigerians will not experience any hardship due to scarcity of petrol during the coming yuletide.
The letter reads: “The distinguished Senate President will recall that as part of the 2012 budget framework, a provision of N888.1 billion was made for payment of fuel subsidy for the nation. I wish to intimate the distinguished Senate of the fact that, following the forensic audit carried out, the provision for fuel subsidy in the 2012 budget was underestimated.
As at now, the sum of N880,264,243,683.61 billion has been paid out, leaving a balance of N7, 735, 756, 316.39 billion. “In order to accommodate the outstanding arrears resulting from the forensic audit exercise and the remaining period of the year 2012, an additional sum of N161, 617, 364, 911 billion over and above what was programmed in the 2012 framework, is required. Given the need to maintain a steady flow of petroleum products, especially in the run-up to the festive season, it is my hope that the distinguished Senators will kindly accord this request their traditional expeditious consideration and approval.
Accordingly, I hereby forward copies of the supplemental request for the additional payment of 2012,” the letter read. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday ordered its Finance committee to ,within a week, submit a comprehensive report on the level of implementation of the 2012 budget.
The President had in the letter titled: ‘Request for Supplementary Budget FDR2012’ and addressed it to Hon. Tambuwal. The decision to submit a fresh audit of the budget three weeks to the end of the year followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Abdulrahman Abba Terab. He said that it was absurd that the National Assembly was moving switfly to pass the 2013 budget when the 2012 is yet to be implemented satisfactorily.
The legislator drew the attention of his colleagues to the fact “that the revenue receipts so far for 2012 had been confirmed to be higher than what was projected for the 2012 fiscal regime. Consequently, the fourth quarter capital releases made to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) just this December despite being inadequate on the percentage of budget implementation, were found to be inconsistent, hence, only about 30% of the allocated value were actually remitted to the MDAs.
That at this moment in December, we cannot fully claim capital releases to average 60% across the board to MDAs,” he said. Terab described as disturbing the various sums of money saved from recovery exercises, non-oil excess revenues, and the 2012 unspent revenues and others like the pension reform and fake subsidy claims, lamenting that they were neither captured in the 2013 appropriation nor provided for as opening balances in the 2013 expenditure accounts.
“Most, if not all capital projects captured only in the 2012 appropriation will henceforth remain abandoned resulting in the waste of all the resources that we have laboured to commit in the 2012 budget. This will further contribute to the huge pile of abandoned projects and increase our infrastructurai deficit which is almost insurmountable. This also means that our 2012 growth projections will be completely eroded and difficult to justify,” Terab noted.
Several lawmakers including the House Committee Chairmen on Finance and Appropiration decried the poor implementation of the budget. After a lengthy debate on the motion, the House directed its Committee on Finance “to compile and present a comprehensive report on the revenues, expenditures, and any unforeseen savings in the 2012 budget implementation, and carve out a solution on the outstanding capital releases in the 2012 appropriation act with a view to ensure its full implementation, and submit to the House within one week.”