2012 Budget: Reps dare Jonathan

The House of Representatives is pressing ahead with its planned Status Inquiry of capital projects listed for execution in the 2012 budget, regardless of objection from the executive arm.

All House committees have been mobilized with funds to avert a situation whereby Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will come to their aid.

The one-week tour, which is scheduled to commence tomorrow is expected to end on October 9.

A principal officer of the House, who spoke in confidence, said: “All the MDAs have submitted a list of projects executed or being constructed to the committees in the House.

“We have also made available all the capital projects in the 2012 budget to House members so that we can crosscheck whether the Executive list tallies with ours. There is certainly no going back on the Status Inquiry Tour.

“We are aware that the Executive made its position known to the House leadership that the tour was unnecessary but wants to assist this arm, especially Mr. President, to know the actual status of projects.

“We have closed that chapter of the opposition from the Executive to this exercise. And this decision is collective. Every House member endorsed the exercise.

“This is not an exercise to witch-hunt the President or any member of the Federal Executive Council. It also does not have any link with the recent budget implementation row between the government and the National Assembly.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “All committees have been allocated funds to make this assessment of projects easier. They all accessed their funds as at the close of work on Friday.

“They have been directed not to collect any money or assistance from the MDAs or any government agency.”

Contacted last night, the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Zackary Mohammed said: “Most of our members have already left Abuja for this exercise. We will be back on October 9.”

A government source said: “The Executive did its best to make a comprehensive report on budget implementation available to the House.

“The President also met with the leadership of the National Assembly before he traveled to the UN. It was a confidence-building session on the budget implementation and the grouses of the lawmakers.

“With what the President and his team did, the government is of the opinion that the Status Inquiry is unnecessary. More so, a similar project assessment tour is being conducted by a team led by the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku.”

Out of the N1.3trillion voted for capital projects in the 2012 budget, the Federal Ministry of Finance said it has released N710.4billion.

Only N535.2billion of the amount is cash-backed.

The Ministry also admitted that the MDAs have so far utilized N320.9billion, which is about 25.5per cent of the N1.3trillion.

Meanwhile, the Presidency is yet to communicate to the House of Representatives its position on the shift of October 4 initially fixed for the presentation of 2013 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.

The House had rejected the date fixed by President Jonathan because its Finance and Appropriation Committees are still considering the framework for the budget.

Another principal officer said: “We have not got notice of a new date from the President. But since we have started our project implementation tour, it will certainly be after October 9.

“Before we rejected October 4, we consulted with the Senate, which is also occupying the chairmanship of the National Assembly.”

The Nation

Leave a Reply