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2010 BUDGET: N100BN FOR LAWMAKERS' CONSTITUENCY PROJECTS

By NBF NEWS

Details of the 2010 budget, which the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, signed into law on Thursday, showed that zonal constituency projects of lawmakers amounted to N100bn.

Jonathan had held a meeting with the leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives where he expressed reservations about the budget, which was increased by N528bn.

It was gathered that town halls were included in constituency projects.

The total expenditure is N4.6tn comprising N2.077tn for recurrent and N1.853tn for capital.

The House has N53bn, while the Senate is to spend N37bn.

President Umaru Yar'Adua had originally presented N4.079tn on November 24, 2009 to the National Assembly before it was adjusted to N4.3tn

Some members who spoke in confidence with our correspondent had admitted that 'distortions' existed in the budget.

A lawmaker on Tuesday had said, 'The most annoying thing is that these projects were smuggled into the budget after it was passed.'

However, no official statement has come from either the Executive or the National Assembly on the contentious areas in the budget.

But a scrutiny of details of allocations to the Millennium Development Goals revealed questionable breakdowns. The MDG has N110bn budget.

Some of the details are N250m for MDG's monitoring and evaluation of impact assessment, N2.159bn for consultancy for 2008 and 2009, just as monitoring and evaluation study tour of members of the National Assembly and Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDG will gulp N100m.

Normally, funds are allocated to committees of the National Assembly for their oversight functions, of which the MDG committee is one of them.

Other allocations are, communication and advocacy N500m, communication and advocacy (public presentation) N200m, monitoring and evaluation for the Office of Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDG N2bn, hosting of African parliamentarians N200m and attending UN meeting on MDG, N600m.

Besides, a total of N2.159bn was provided for consultancy for 2008 and 2009.

It was gathered that Jonathan signed the budget in order to stave off possible early stand off with the lawmakers, while negotiations continued on how to weed out the grey areas.

A lawmaker said, 'Most of us don't even know these grey areas.'

According to the summary of the budget, N463.1bn will be used to service domestic debt, while N33.9bn is for foreign debt.

Statutory transfers covering National Judicial Institute, Niger Delta Development Commission and Universal Basic Education stood at N180, 279,158,994.