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‘6,576 new projects, reduction of police allowance’ — Buhari laments alterations in 2022 budget

Author:
Wasilat Azeez

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed reservations over the “worrisome changes” made by the national assembly to the 2022 executive budget.

On Friday, the president signed the N17.13 trillion 2022 appropriation bill into law.

The presidency had submitted a proposal worth N16.391 trillion to the national assembly. The lawmakers later increased the budget size to N17.127 trillion.

In his remarks after signing the budget, Buhari said the lawmakers reduced the amount allocated to some projects — but added 6,576 projects of their own to the 2022 budget.

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‘‘It is in this regard that I must express my reservations about many of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the 2022 Executive Budget proposal,” he said.

‘‘Some of the worrisome changes are as follows:

‘‘Increase in projected FGN Independent Revenue by N400 billion, the justification for which is yet to be provided to the Executive;

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‘‘Reduction in the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Maturing Bonds by N22 billion without any explanation;

‘‘Reduction of the provisions for the Non-Regular Allowances of the Nigerian Police Force and the Nigerian Navy by N15 billion and N5 billion respectively.

‘‘This is particularly worrisome because personnel cost provisions are based on agencies’ nominal roll and approved salaries/allowances;

‘‘Furthermore, an increase of N21.72 billion in the Overhead budgets of some MDAs, while the sum of N1.96 billion was cut from the provision for some MDAs without apparent justification;

‘‘Increase in the provision for Capital spending (excluding Capital share in Statutory Transfer) by a net amount of N575.63 billion, from N4.89 trillion to N5.47 trillion.’’

Buhari also expressed concern in the reductions in provisions for some critical projects, including “N12.6 billion in the ministry of transport’s budget for the ongoing rail modernisation projects; N25.8 billion from power sector reform programme under the ministry of finance, budget and national planning; N14.5 billion from several projects of the ministry of agriculture, and introducing over 1,500 new projects into the budgets of this ministry and its agencies”.

‘‘Inclusion of new provisions totalling N36.59 billion for National Assembly’s projects in the Service Wide Vote which negates the principles of separation of powers and financial autonomy of the legislative arm of government.

‘‘The changes to the original Executive proposal are in the form of new insertions, outright removals, reductions and/or increases in the amounts allocated to projects.

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‘‘Provisions made for as many as 10,733 projects were reduced while 6,576 new projects were introduced into the budget by the National Assembly.

‘‘Reduction in the provisions for many strategic capital projects to introduce ‘Empowerment’ projects.

‘‘The cuts in the provisions for several of these projects by the National Assembly may render the projects unimplementable or set back their completion, especially some of this Administration’s strategic capital projects.

‘‘Most of the projects inserted relate to matters that are basically the responsibilities of State and Local Governments and do not appear to have been properly conceptualised, designed and costed.

‘‘Many more projects have been added to the budgets of some MDAs with no consideration for the institutional capacity to execute the additional projects and/or for the incremental recurrent expenditure that may be required.’’

He declared that it was surprising that despite the national assembly increasing projected revenue by N609.27 billion, the additional executive request of N186.53 billion for critical expenditure items could not be accommodated without increasing the deficit, while the sum of N550.59 billion from the projected incremental revenues was allocated at the discretion of national assembly.

The president said that he would revert to the national assembly with a request for amendment as soon as the house resumes to ensure that critical ongoing projects cardinal to his administration do not suffer a setback due to reduced funding.

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