(The Moment) – The Senate has uncovered N1trillion projects smuggled into the 2012 Appropriation Bill that were not contained in the original budget proposal presented by President Goodluck Jonathan to the joint session of the National Assembly.
The Senate’s discovery came as the Federal Government yesterday asked for the approval of the upper legislative chamber to borrow $7.9billion (about N1. 25 trillion) to finance pipeline projects under the medium term (2012-2014) external borrowing plan.
However, the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Mohammed Maccido, who made the disclosure of the smuggled N1trillion projects has explained that there are two versions of the 2012 budget, alleging that the N4.7 trillion budget presented by President Jonathan had been padded with bogus items to the tune of N1 trillion.
Senator Maccido said there are a lot of disparities between the budget proposal sent to the National Assembly by the president and the one defended by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He added that the Senate has discovered that over 40 per cent of the projects defended by the MDAs are not in the budget presented by President Jonathan, assuring that the Senate would reject such projects.
The senator said the Senate was comparing the two versions of the budget, warning that it may delete any project not captured by the president’s budget proposal.
‘The problem is that we are seeing projects that are not in the original version of the budget presented to us by President Goodluck Jonathan and substantial part of these projects are being smuggled into the budget by the MDAs and ministers.
‘Over 40 per cent of the projects in the budget are not in the original budget. And we are saying no to this. The items so smuggled into the budget are over N1trillion.
‘So we are right now comparing the budget as originally presented by the President and the version presented by the MDAs. Unless these projects are there in the original budget, we are going to remove them. It is no longer going to be business as usual.
‘These people are just smuggling in projects that are not in the budget. And we are going to remove them,’ Senator Maccido assured.
The Senate President David Mark, however, read the President’s letter on the $7.9billion (about N1. 25 trillion) loan sought to finance pipeline projects for Africa’s largest industry.
The president’s letter, dated February 10, 2012, seeks to access the loans from the World Bank, African Development Bank (ADB), Islamic Development Bank, Exim Bank of China and India lines of credit.
The letter also stated that a number of special initiatives were designed to put the economy back on track through growth and employment activities geared towards the implementation of the transformation agenda.
The president added that a number of projects have been designed to create employment opportunities with a view to growing the economy, adding that the pipeline projects are at various stages of finalisation.
‘Therefore, I present herewith a total external pipeline borrowing in the amount of $7. 905, 690, 000 or $2. 64billion a year being cumulative facilities offered by the World Bank, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Exim Bank of China and Indian lines of credit,’ the president said.
-Via The Moment