Thursday, 18 October 2012

Nigerians must know facts, figures from oil earnings – Mark

2013 budget: Senate concludes debate, refers to c’ttee on appropriation

He said: ‘’Revenue generation is extremely important because we can continue to assume that we are producing so many barrels and that so much has come in, but if we don’t touch the heart of it to make sure we are dealing with facts and figure, then we would be talking about imaginary figures.

“I think the committee on finance should get to the root of that to know how much we have realised at the end of the year and then we would know how much has been utilised. It is one thing to say that so much has been released to MDAs, but if they are not cash backed, then that release is merely on paper.

While urging the Senators to ensure that they carry out an effective oversight to assess the level of budget implementation, Mark said: “Whatever we say about the budget, if we pass it and can implement exactly what we passed faithfully, then, we would not have the complaints that we have.”

Earlier in his lead debate on the budget, Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, PDP, Cross River Central, noted that there should be slight change in the 2013 budget to accommodate the huge losses recorded through flood in the country. He, however, argued that the $75 oil benchmark set by the executive “is designed against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty as the global economy is at a very slow pace.”

Senators pick holes on sectoral allocations

Senators in their contributions to the Bill, however, picked holes on the sectoral allocation by the Executive to some MDAs.

In his contribution, Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi, PDP, Bauchi Central said: “This budget is like any other budget seen in the last 10 to 12 years. It has not shifted in focus. We must be able to tell about the performance of the previous budget and what you intend to achieve with the new one. This Assembly must wait for the executive to return unutilised funds.

“Our interest should be how to eradicate poverty through job creations and not how international bodies have perceived Nigerian economy as having progressed. On the geo-political balancing, I think North East was cheated but in the last two years, the South East has propped up but that of the North East has remained low. The poorest zone should be propped up to be at par with others.

Also in his contribution, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Publicity, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South said: “Looking at this budget, I am inclined to agree that there is not much that is new from what we have seen in the past.”

For Senator George Thompson Sekibo, PDP, Rivers East: “We are not making proper inroads in harnessing our natural resources. The word ‘diversify’ does not make any meaning any longer. Depending on oil alone will not bring desired development. It was also observed that the budget of NDDC is fixed; it does not increase from about N50 bilion.”

In his contribution, Senator Kabir Ibrahim Gaya, Kano South said: “The budget on power is very low and the agriculture with only N81 billion is equally very low. We need to provide food for Nigerians. If we can improve our budget for agriculture, we can curtail importation and provide jobs for our people.”

For Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Ita Enang, PDP, Akwa Ibom North –East,”The SURE P fund should be used to build new refineries. If you go around the town, there are cars on the line waiting for fuel. As an interim measure, government should not send task force to the creeks to destroy modular refineries, which are doing well and help to save the economy. We should manage them rather than destroy them. I also want to say that North East has not been cheated; the amount of money spent on security in the zone should be created to them as part of their budget.

Also in his contribution, Senator Bukola Saraki, PDP, Kwara Central, said “As far as implementation remains low, it will be difficult to expect that of 2013 to be fully implemented.We must insist on implementation as stipulated in the constitution.”

Senator Chris Anyanwu, APGA, Imo East who commended the President for reducing the cost of governance, said, “I applaud the President’s idea of reducing the cost of governance by rationalizing agencies with overlapping functions.

‘’Many of these agencies were established to create jobs for the boys and recycle same people in the public sector. That is unproductive; the economy will continue to be weighed down by over blotted recurrent expenditure. It is time we deal with it head on. President should create an enabling environment and push these people into the productive sector.

‘’Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE P): In 2012, government voted N180 billion for social safety development projects such as road and rail projects. Out of the 180 billion, only N36.5 billion has been utilized on mass transit, maternal and child health roads and rail projects and job creation through public works.

‘’Money saved from SURE P is for all and should not be used to develop some areas while others are neglected. No part of Nigeria is to observe other parts enjoy our national wealth while they remain in poverty. Where are all the mass transit buses? The mass transit in my state remains Keke NAPEP. That is a shame for a country dripping with milk and honey. SURE P should be over-sighted by committees of National Assembly since money is involved. Also, it should have its programmes even-handedly spread throughout the country.

‘’Giving of envelop is responsible for the over-bloated recurrent expenditure. What is the input of Orasanya’s committee on the 2013 budget? I think going forward, the budget office of the National Assembly and the appropriation committee should come up with mechanism for managing the nation’s budget.”

Also contributing, Senate Minority Leader,  Senator George Akume, ACN, Benue North-East said, ‘’JVC should be removed from the budget since partners could not account for utilization of the fund.”

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