Senate Scores FG Low On 2024 Budget Performance

Senate Scores FG Low On 2024 Budget Performance

The Senate has scored the executive low in the implementation of the capital component of the 2024 budget, saying there is a need for the government to get Ministries, Department and Agencies of the Federal Government to implement the budget.

The Senate on Wednesday also urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts in funding the capital components of the three national budgets which are running concurrently in the country.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Solomon Adeola, gave the task when the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun and the Accountant General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, appeared before the panel over the budget performances.

Adeola lamented the poor funding of the capital components of the budgets and urged the Coordinating Minister for the Economy to improve on it.

Adeola said, “It is the capital component of the budgets that will showcase this government largely in terms of performances.

“The capital components tend to showcase various projects that will be executed by this government and people can say, oh, the government is doing this, it’s doing that. That is why we are emphasising the performance of the 2024 capital component of the project.”

Adeola added, “The N1.84bn achieved so far out of a N9tn capital expenditure component is nothing to write home about.

“I would want you to please look towards this direction. And I want you to do more engagement with the ministries and departments and agencies of the government.”

Adeola urged the minister to engage more with the MDAs because most of them were not aware of the current arrangement regarding funding of capital projects.

He said, “I tell you for free, some agencies will tell you that they have not been given any money for capital when we are fully aware that the process of payment of capital has changed.

“That shows a lot of engagement has to go on from time to time to bring it to their notice that you are no longer in charge of payment to contractors.

“I want you to please do a kind of continuous engagement. It will help so that everybody can come to terms that the system has changed.”

He added, “Everything about the method of payment, and method of business has changed. I would say that. Coming back to the NNPCL, we make it known that we have been assured of two million barrels.

“Long before now, we have been on 1.2 million barrels over this period. So that shows that we now have a capacity of two million barrels. Why is it now the NNPCL is assuring us of two million barrels?”

The Senate panel chairman also hinted at plans by the red chamber to organise a public hearing on the NNPC where stakeholders in the oil and gas sector would be invited including the Finance Minister.

He said, “We will soon bring everyone in that industry, the NNPC, the upstream and downstream to the table because there are a lot of reports that we have concerning that which the Senate in no distant future will invite everybody.

“The minister of finance too might be invited to let us know what is happening in our oil and gas sector.

“They have promised to deliver on our refineries for the last couple of months, billions of dollars have been expended and nothing to show for it.

“The local producers have not been encouraged, the local refineries have not been encouraged. No progress has been made in this direction. So all this and more is what we look into in the future.”

Adeola nevertheless commended the minister for achieving 100 per cent funding of the 2023 supplementary budgets.

He said, “We did the supplementary budget, which we have achieved 100% release, which is highly commendable.

“It will not be out of place for you to have a periodic report on the implementation level of these agencies so that at least you can be guided on why transiting to the new method of payment as you can be guided.

“As for the main 2023 budget, we are lagging by over 50-something per cent, I also strongly believe that we should work around the clock.”

The finance minister told the senators that the Federal Government had made progress in its ongoing forensic investigation into the N30trn ways and means.

He also said that the take-off of the electric and CNG vehicles has been held up by a spike in freight costs.

Edun pledged that his ministry would intensify efforts in monitoring the revenue-generating agencies to be up and doing. He equally said the debt service is up to date.

Edun said, “The procurement of electric and CNG buses and conversion kits, more importantly, has been held up by a spike in the freight costs.

“It’s just the ingenuity of one of the young men that is in that business that when I’ve got a bulk carrier that has a lower freight cost. Otherwise, the trade cost per bus became daunting and it made people just hold up to see whether this procurement was profitable for them.

On debt payments, he said, “We have paid $700 million in debt services for 420 national development agencies and others”

Speaking on the Ways and Means, “We are also interrogating the 22.7 trillion that we met on the ground. We instituted a forensic audit to see the impact.

“We are also interrogating the revenues that are due to us from everybody because we need to. The view of the fact that ways and means are going down rather than up. So we are servicing all the debts.”

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