President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday criticised the National Assembly for removing crucial projects from the 2022 budget estimates sent to it by the executive and inserting the lawmakers’ projects to the tune of N887 billion in the fiscal document before it was signed into law.
He also accused the federal lawmakers of making unnecessary incursion into the operational areas of the executive.
This was just as the president has asked the National Assembly to amend the 2022 Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly in December, 2021.
The requests were contained in a letter dated February 10, 2022, and read during plenary by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
Buhari in the letter, he also said it was imperative to remove all capital projects that were replicated in the 2022 Appropriation Act.
He lamented that 139 out of the 254 projects in the budget totaling N13.24 billion had been identified for deletion.
The president, therefore, requested the National Assembly to amend the Appropriation Act to provide for capital expenditure in the sum of N106,161,499,052 billion; and N43,870,592,044 billion for recurrent expenditure.
He also requested that an additional provision for N2.557 trillion be appropriated by the National Assembly to fund the petrol subsidy in the 2022 budget framework which was revised to provide fully for PMS subsidy.
Buhari stressed the need to reinstate four capital projects totaling N1.4 billion in the executive proposal for the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.
He said N22 billion should be cut from the provision for the Sinking Fund to retire mature loans needed to meet government’s obligations under already Issued Bonds.
Buhari said: “You will agree with me that the inclusion of National Assembly’s expenditures in the Executive Budget negates the principles of separation of Powers and financial autonomy of the Legislature.
“It is therefore necessary to transfer the National Assembly’s expenditures totaling N16.59 billion in the Service Wide Vote to National Assembly Statutory Transfer provision (see Schedule l).
“It is also imperative to reinstate the N22 billion cut from the provision for Sinking Fund to Retire Mature Loans to ensure that government can meet its obligations under already issued bonds as and when they mature.
“The cuts made from provisions for the recurrent spending of Nigeria’s Foreign Missions, which are already constrained, are capable of causing serious embarrassment to the country as they mostly relate to office and residential rentals.
“Similarly, the reductions in provisions for allowances payable to personnel of the Nigerian Navy and Police Formations and Commands could create serious issues for government. It is therefore imperative that these provisions be restored as proposed
“It is also absolutely necessary to remove all capital projects that are replicated in the 2022 Appropriation Act. 139 out of the 254 such projects totaling N13.24 billion have been identified to be deleted from the budget.”
He added: “Some significant and non-mandate projects were introduced in the budgets of the Ministry of Transportation, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation
“There are several other projects that have been included by the National Assembly in the budgets of agencies that are outside their mandate areas.
“The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been directed to work with your relevant Committees to comprehensively identify and realign all such misplaced projects.
“It is also necessary to restore the titles / descriptions of 32 projects in the Appropriation Act to the titles contained in the Executive Proposal for the Ministry of Water Resources (see Schedule IV) in furtherance of our efforts to complete and put to use critical agenda projects.
The president also sought the approval of the federal parliament for a fresh request of N150 billion.
“It is equally important to reinstate the N25.81 billion cut from the provision for the Power Sector Reform Programme in order to meet the Federal Government’s commitment under the financing plan agreed with the World Bank.
“Furthermore, there is critical and urgent need to restore the N3 billion cut from the provision made for payment of mostly long outstanding Local Contractors’ Debts and Other Liabilities as part of our strategy to reflate the economy and spur growth.”
The president said the N2.557 trillion fresh requests was to enable the federal government to subsidise petrol from June to December this year.
He said: “Following the suspension of the petrol subsidy removal, the 2022 Budget Framework has been revised to fully provide for PMS subsidy.
“An additional provision of N2.557 trillion will be required to fund the petrol subsidy in 2022. Consequently, the Federation account (Main Pool) revenue for the three tiers of government is projected to decline by N2 trillion while FGN’s share from the account is projected to reduce by N1.05 trillion.
“Therefore, the amount available to fund the federal budget is projected to decline by N969.09 billion.”
Culled from THISDAY