It said the 56 per cent was the percentage of the N404bn of cash-backed releases to Ministries, Departments and Agencies and that the figure represented only 34 per cent of the N1.5tn capital component of the budget.
The House said this at a media briefing in Abuja in its reaction to Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s claim that the government had implemented 56 per cent of the budget.
It also said it was not going back on its resolution to commence impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan if he failed to achieve 100 per cent implementation of the budget by September.
The minister’s claim came as part of government’s responses to the threat to commence impeachment proceedings against Jonathan.
The Information Committee Chairman of the House, Zakari Mohammed, who addressed the media, noted that by the finance minister’s statement, only N324bn of the N404bn released so far for capital project had been cash-backed in July.
He said, “This was the grouse of the House. We are in the seventh month, going to the eighth month of the year; out of N1.5tn, you have cash-backed only N324bn. That is not good enough; that is the point that is being made. The budget performance is not encouraging.”
“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 N404bn released to MDAs.
“The minister was clear in saying that of this amount (N404bn), only N324bn has so far been cash-backed.
“In other words, it is only N324bn that is available to the MDAs for capital projects and programmes of government out of about N1.5tn appropriated for all capital expenditure.”
Mohammed said that 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.
“For the avoidance of doubt, 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.
“More evidential is the fact that releases so far made to the MDAs are not enough to pay for on–going projects or projects chosen by the Executive.
“For instance, out of a total appropriation of N145bn for the Ministry of Works in the budget, only N47bn has so far been released to the ministry.
“In the first quarter, N38bn was released and in the second quarter only N9bn was released, with a shortfall of about N30bn for the second quarter. The projects that need these appropriations are core road projects in all over the country.
“Or are these inter-state highways and other strategic road projects also constituency projects? Playing to the gallery by the Executive arm will not change the facts of the situation.”
Mohammed observed that by withholding the funds of MDAs, the minister had committed “an illegality” under Section 6 of the 2012 Appropriation Act.
The section reads, “The minister of Finance shall ensure that funds appropriated under this Act are released to the appropriate agencies and or organs of government as and when due, provided that no funds for any quarter of the fiscal year shall be deferred without prior waiver from the National Assembly.”
The committee chairman reiterated the July 19 stance of the House to commence impeachment proceedings against Jonathan.
He explained that the lawmakers’ stance would correct the impression that they had been a “toothless bulldog.”
“That we are not a toothless bulldog means that we will use all the constitutional powers at our disposal to ensure that the budget is fully implemented. The action we took before we went on vacation showed that we have charted a new course; things will not remain the same”, he added.
The lawmaker said the impeachment threat had sent the right signal to the Executive, as evidenced in the “rapid” release of funds to the MDAs in the last one week.
Okonjo-Iweala had stated last week that nowhere in the world was a budget ever implemented 100 per cent, an indication that there was no way Jonathan would meet the 100 per cent target in September.
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