Reps Approve N236.5B For Second Reading

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ABUJA, July 27, (THEWILL) - A week after President Goodluck Jonathan submitted the 2010 budget proposal for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the National Assembly, the House of Representatives has passed the bill for second reading.

The budget is made up of N5.860 billion for personnel cost and N6, 964 billion for over head cost with N1, 730 billion as capital expenditure while the sum of N222 billion is for development projects expenditure.

While leading debate on the budget, leader of the House, Hon. Tunde Akogun said that the budget was aimed at enhancing human capital development by engaging the vibrant youths of the region.

He explained that the budget identifies the need to complete a backlog of projects awarded as far back as 2002 saying ‘it therefore proposes to complete outstanding projects so as to effectively capture the essence of the Commission’s interventions’.

The leader also explained that the budget was a Presidential initiative on the amnesty programme of the federal government. ‘It is also worthy to note that the Commission’s budget keys into the Presidential initiative on Post Amnesty Era by providing critical infrastructure towards advancing the programme’.

But members were not in a hurry to pass the bill as they picked holes in some of the items injected into the document. Hon. Halims Agoda (PDP-Delta) in his contribution called on the House Committee on NDDC to critically look at the budget and ensure that money appropriated is judiciously utilized.

Chairman of the Committee on Inter-Governmental affairs, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP-Delta) in his contribution called for a critical analysis of the budget by the committee and to also find out why 92 per cent was allocated to capital projects in the proposed budget.

Also contributing, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha (PDP-Abia) said that the budget was critical to the wellbeing people of the region while urging the commission to live up to its responsibilities.

Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Ita Enang (PDP-Akwa Ibom) said that the commission should work in collaboration with the states in the area of projects execution.

He called for the extension of implementation period of budget for the commission to March 31 to enable it meet the aspirations of the region.

Enang who decried the standard of roads constructed in the region by the commission said that the committee should ensure high standard.

Hon. Ifaluyi Isibor (PDP-Edo) said that with the 84 percent increment in the commission’s 2010 budget as against that of 2009, there would be no excuse for the commission for non performance.

However, Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon (AC-Edo) described the late submission of the budget as a display of lack of seriousness on the part of the Executive.

He said that the commission had distanced itself from the people in terms of provision of basic infrastructure.

Nafada said that the committee in analyzing the budget should also ascertain the amount of capital vote utilized from the 2009 budget and how much was refunded to the treasury.