ABUJA — The House of Representatives, yesterday, restated its readiness to wield the big stick against the executive arm of government in order to ensure the full implementation of the 2012 budget.
This declaration was made by Hon. Zakari Mohammed, Chairman, House Committee on Media while responding to reporters’ questions during a press briefing, yesterday.
Zakari also described claims by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that the Federal Government had already implemented 56 per cent of the budget as erroneous.
Said he: “First of all, it is not true that the executive arm has implemented as at today 56 per cent of the 2012 budget as widely reported. In truth, about 34 per cent of the budget has been implemented. What the minister admitted to, as can be confirmed from her own words, is that, at best government has implemented 56 per cent of the N404 billion released to MDAs.
“The Minister was clear in saying that, of this amount (N404 billion) only N324 billion has so far been cash backed. In other words, it is only N324 billion that is available to the MDAs for implementation of capital projects and programmes of government of about N1.5 trillion appropriated for all capital expenditure.”
Selective implementation of budget
Zakari also condemned what he described as the executive arm of government’s poor and selective implementation of the budget, including the attitude of the relevant public officers in executing government projects.
According to him,”the House of Representatives will like to restate its concern on the poor and selective implementation of the 2012 budget by the executive arm of government and the attitude of officials of government saddled with the responsibility of implementing the Appropriation Act.
He further stated that it was not within the powers of the Finance Minister to pick and choose projects and programmes to fund as has been the case with the Appropriation Act 2012.
According to the House spokesman, “her piecemeal and discretionary release of funds for projects, contrary to the schedule approved in the Appropriation Act, is unlawful. She is, in fact, apparently breaking the law.”
He also said the House did not agree with the minister that the slow pace of implementation of the 2012 budget was as a result of the constituency projects introduced into the budget by the National Assembly.
According to him, “the constituency projects represent less than 10 per cent of the 2012 capital budget. How can this be the reason for the slow implementation of the budget? This excuse for non-implementation falls flat on its face when a review of the performance of the executive on even its own preferred projects is made.”