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JUST DAYS AFTER SIGNING IT, JONATHAN WANTS 2012 BUDGET AMENDED

President wants 2012 budget tweaked despite only just signing it himself

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President Goodluck Jonathan

By Onwuka Nzeshi

Barely one week after signing the 2012 Budget into law, President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday requested the National Assembly to amend some aspects of the Act to reflect some last minute adjustments made on its cardinal projections by the parliament.

Part of the request was for an increase in the allocation for the Reintegration of Niger Delta Ex-militants from N924 million to N42.2 billion.

It is also aimed at reducing the Operations Cost of the Programme from N16 billion to N3.1 billion, while allocation for Reintegration of Trans-formed Niger Delta Ex-militants (2010 arrears) put at N4.1 billion would be scrapped.

In a letter addressed to the Speaker, House of Represen-tatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, President Jonathan said his request was based on the increase in the oil benchmark from $70 per barrel to $72 per barrel.

The original version of the Appropriation Bill sent to the National Assembly was based on a benchmark of $70 per barrel of crude oil.

The National Assembly, Jonathan said, was expected to alter the sum appropriated to the Amnesty Programme for ex-militants of the Niger Delta region.

The letter read in part:

“You may wish to recall that the original 2012 Budget was predicated on a benchmark price of $70.00pb, while the passed budget has increased it to $72.00pb. As you are aware, the allocation to NDDC and UBE under the Statutory Transfer are normally computed as a percentage of the revenue accruing to the Federal Government.

“The increase in the benchmark price of crude oil from $70.00pb to $72.00pb requires that the allocation to these Agencies be adjusted to reflect the increment. It appears that the Appropriation Bill inadvertently retained the old figure thereby resulting in a shortfall of N1.91 billion for NDDC and N1.97 billion for UBE. I therefore, seek your cooperation to adjust these allocations to reflect the higher benchmark price.

“The Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P) was designed specifically to address the infrastructural challenges as social safety net. In order to monitor the implementation of the programme, a Board was set up to monitor the implementation and report on its progress.

“The 2012 Appropriation Bill did not separate the SURE-P from the rest of the Budget. I therefore, seek your cooperation to reflect it separately in the Bill to make it easier for the Board to effectively perform their monitoring mandate.”

According to Jonathan, the request for adjustment of the allocation to the Amnesty Programme was borne out of the need to release more resources for the implementation of the core aspects of the programme as against the cost of administering the programme.

He however requested a reduction in overhead allocation with emphasis on “Stipend and Feeding Allowance” under the programme from N48.2 billion to N20.7 billion.

THISDAY

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