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FG to supervise lawmakers' N100bn constituency projects in 2013

By The Citizen
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President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Minister of Special Duties, Mallam Taminu Turaki, to supervise the implementation of the N100bn constituency projects of National Assembly members.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday on the 2013 budget, which was recently signed into law by the President.

She also said the Federal Government had begun the process of implementing the report of the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of the Federal Civil Service.

Okonjo-Iweala said an amendment bill of the 2013 budget would soon be sent to the National Assembly to address the grey areas.

She said the bill would address three outstanding - reduction in personnel cost; reallocation of capital expenditure by lawmakers; and reallocation of the budget for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.

The minister said, 'When we reviewed the National Assembly's version, there were several challenges, which had to be revisited. There were three main challenging areas, namely: reductions in the wage bill; major capital expenditures, which had been re-allocated; and reallocations of the budget

'For the SURE-P; we successfully resolved these changes in the past two weeks, and Mr. President will send a proposal to the National Assembly for the amendment of the 2013 budget.

'Let me also add here that Mr. President has assigned the Minister of Special Duties to assist in overseeing the implementation of the N100bn constituency projects across the country.'

Okonjo-Iweala said the government remained focused on critical economic and social sectors driven largely by private sector activities, adding that N497bn was allocated to key infrastructure (including power, works, transport, aviation, gas pipelines and the Federal Capital Territory); human capital development (i.e. education and health) - N705bn; and agriculture/water resources - N175bn.

The minister also disclosed the Federal Government's plans to further reduce annual domestic borrowing as well as defray debts of foreign missions.

She said that annual domestic borrowing to finance the budget deficit had been reduced from N852bn in 2011 to N744bn in 2012 and N577bn in 2013

'We are also making concerted efforts to defray the debts of our foreign missions. In this context, we have made a provision of N13bn in the 2013 budget to help clear accumulated debts as at the cut-off date of June 2012.

'Government has also established a committee under the chairmanship of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which will work out a system to better manage the assets of our foreign missions,' she stated.

On the 2012 budget, Okonjo-Iweala said despite its late implementation, the Federal Government was able to release N1.017tn to ministries, departments and agencies of government for the implementation of various capital projects.

Of this amount, she said N739bn was successfully cash-backed, while N686bn or 92.8 per cent of the total amount cash-backed was utilised by the MDAs.

She said that the Federal Government had reduced by about N100bn, allocations to agencies recommended for scrapping.

The Presidential committee headed by a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Stephen Orosanye, had recommended the scrapping of government agencies with duplicate functions.

According to her, some of these agencies with duplicate functions were established legally and for anything to be done in this regard, the Federal Government would require the support of the National Assembly in reviewing the laws establishing them.

The minister said the cost of governance had reduced, adding that for instance, the share of recurrent spending in the total expenditure had reduced from 74.4 per cent in 2011 to 67.5 per cent in 2013

She said the government had sustained its policy of re-balancing its expenditure in favour of capital investment over the medium term.

Okonjo-Iweala said, 'The share of recurrent spending in total expenditure has reduced from 74.4 per cent in 2011 to 67.5 per cent in 2013.

'Similarly, capital spending as a share of total expenditure has increased from 25.6 per cent in 2011 to 32.5 per cent in 2013.'

The 2013 budget makes provision for an aggregate expenditure of N4.987tn, representing an increase of 6.2 per cent over the N4.697tn appropriated in 2012.

This is made up of N387.97bn for statutory transfers; N591.76bn for debt servicing; N2.38tn for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, of which N1.717tn is for personnel cost, while overhead cost is projected at N208.9bn; and a total of N1.62tn has been provisioned for capital expenditure.

In addition, N273.5bn has been provided for the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme.

The gross federally collectible revenue is projected at N11.34tn, of which the total revenue available for the Federal Government's budget is forecast at N4.1tn, representing an increase of 15 per cent over the estimate for 2012.