Prof. Olusegun Ajibola, immediate past president, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), on Thursday criticised the National Assembly for tampering with provisions for critical projects in the 2018 budget.
Ajibola said this Lagos.
The ex-CIBN boss said it was disheartening that National Assembly cut N347 billion on 4,700 projects from the estimates submitted for consideration by the executive and introduced 6,403 new projects amounting to N578 billion.
President Muhammadu Buhari presented a total of N18.61 trillion budget to NASS in October 2017, however, it was increased to N19.12 trillion by the National Assembly.
Ajibola stressed that the projects, which had their provisions reduced by N11.5 billion were strategic national and regional infrastructure projects.
“They included the Mambilla Power Plant Project, Second Niger Bridge, the East-West Road, Bonny-Bodo Road, Lagos to badan Expressway and Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project,” he said.
Ajibola frowned at the action of the National Assembly, saying it would frustrate the infrastructural development initiative of the Federal Government.
He explained that in the 2018 Appropriation Bill submitted to NASS in November 2017, N9.5 billion was allocated to the Mambilla hydropower project.
He said N12 billion counterpart funding was earmarked for transmission lines and substations; N10billion for the second Niger Bridge and N300 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of strategic roads among others.
He said the legislators also tampered with the provision for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme originally pegged at N35.41 billion, reducing it by 8.7 billion.
The Ex-CIBN boss is also not happy with the legislators for reducing the provisions for various strategic interventions in the health sector by N7.45 billion.
“These strategic interventions include the upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, transport and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system.
“Provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables,” he said.
He said the provision for security infrastructure in the 104 Unity Schools across the country was also cut by N3 billion at a time securing students against terrorism ought to be a major concern of government.
According to him, of concern is the increase by the legislators of provisions for their Statutory Transfers by an aggregate of N73.96 billion.
“Most of these increases are for recurrent expenditure at a time we are trying to keep down the cost of governance,” he said.
“An example of the increase is the budget of the NASS itself, which was jerked up from N125 billion to N139.5 billion, an increment of N14.5 billion, without any discussion with the executive,” he said.
Ajibola advised that where it becomes imperative to amend figures, it must be in consultation with the originator of the budget estimates, which is the executive.
“Otherwise, project execution may be constrained by poor conceptualisation, design and implementation process of capital projects.
“This also goes for introduction of new capital projects into the budget without consultation with the process owners,” he said. (NAN)