Reps, senators shred Buhari’s N500b welfare programme

Reps, senators shred Buhari’s N500b welfare programme

Friday, March 4, 2016 7:44 am

Senator Danjuma Goje: picks hole in welfare programme as unimplementable

Senator Danjuma Goje: picks hole in welfare programme as unimplementable

Implementation of N500 billion intervention fund contained in the 2016 budget proposal will not be feasible since there are no clear implementation strategies, the joint committee of the National Assembly on Appropriation has said.

The chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Sen. Danjuma Goje, made the statement on Thursday in Abuja.

He spoke at an interactive session with Ministry of Budget and Planning, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Accountant General’s Office and other stakeholders in the economy.

Goje noted that though the executive gave explanations about the implementation strategies, they were not satisfactory.

“There is no detailed, clear cut structure laid down for implementation of this project because what we have in this budget is N300 billion recurrent and N200 billion capital.

“We had to push hard yesterday to get some details which were not convincing.

“For instance, the explanation we got was that N5, 000 would be given to one million Nigerians.

“Who would choose the one million people, what structures you have in place to make sure that you choose the right people.

“You want to give money to about one million market women or there about and in my place we do not have many market women.

“How would they choose the market women that would represent all interests.

“We have not got clear explanations to these numerous issues surrounding the implementation of this programme.

“Even the afternoon school feeding contained in the budget is not feasible because some students study under non conducive environment. Will feeding them enhance their learning,’’ he said.

Goje pointed out that while the National Assembly was in support of the programme, implementing it in 2016 might not be feasible.

He suggested that the money be added to the budgetary allocation for sectors like power, transport and health, while those responsible would map out better strategy against 2017.

“We are all happy with the programme and I am a party man to the core but what needs to be done, needs to be done very well.

“I think there is a need to do greater work on implementation; otherwise this money will go down the drain.

“We support this programme; we want Mr President to succeed; we want our party to succeed; we want to continue to win election but we want the programme to be successful.

“So, we want you to come up with workable implementation strategeies, otherwise there are so many things that require attention in this country.

“We would rather use this money to solve our problem; use this year to do very sound ground work for implementation so that the programme can take off next year,’’ he said.

The chairman reiterated the need for more budgetary allocation to agriculture and solid mineral sectors in view of the emphasis on diversification.

“We believe that N9 billion cannot diversify solid mineral and N43 billion cannot diversify agriculture.’’

Responding, the Minister of Budget and Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma, said that the special intervention programme was a political commitment which the present administration would not hesitate to fulfil.

He promised to meet with relevant stakeholders to discuss on better strategies for its implementation.

“You can be sure that before it is rolled out, the National assembly would be consulted,’’ he said.

On diversification, the minister said that the N9 billion allocated to solid minerals and N43 billion to agriculture would help to create an enabling environment for private investment.

He said the Federal Government did not have any intention of being an investor.

“What the government does is to provide enabling environment and infrastructure,’’ he said.

Udoma explained that the 2016 budget was zero based, adding that it did not mean that there would not be ceiling as obtained in the envelop system.

He clarified that zero based budgeting meant that each project must be justified by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) before they are included in the budget.

The minister said that there would be mid term review of the budget in the event that the 38 dollars per barrel benchmark and provisions in the budget were not realisable.

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