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NASS Condemn Poor Performance Of 2011 Budget

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ABUJA, December 13, (THEWILL) – The National Assembly Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the 2011 budget, though the federal legislators promised to ensure full implementation of the 2012 fiscal plan as presented to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmed Maccido told a press conference shortly after the budget presentation, that it was not true that the 2011 budget was implemented up to 50 percent as presented by the Minister of Finance who put the performance at that.

“Personally, I am not impressed with the implementation of the 2011 budget and the National Assembly is not too.

“The Minister of Finance has said it was 50 percent performance but that is not true and even if it was implemented 50 percent, it is in the recurrent and not the capital budget, he stated.

However, Maccido described the 2012 budget as “progressive”, declaring as realistic the parameters used, especially the $70 per barrel benchmark as well as the N155 -$1 exchange rate.

Nonetheless, Senate President David Mark has pledged that the National Assembly would ensure the comprehensive implementation of the 2012 budget to the letter through oversight functions.

He said in his opening remarks at today’s joint session that while considering the budget in plenary, the lawmakers would lay emphasis on critical infrastructure and prioritize areas that would reduce revenue leakages, grow the economy, generate employment, encourage local production and promote made-in Nigeria goods.

Mark however lamented that “over the years, we have listened to very beautiful and impressive budget speeches eloquently delivered in this chamber but unfortunately, the implementation has not matched the words as economic policies often lack continuity and projects are needlessly discarded or abandoned.”

He pointed out that Nigeria has what it takes to be a great nation or a world power, adding that the nation’s leaders have never challenged themselves sufficiently over the years to attain this desired goal.

“It is our hope and sincere belief that this budget will challenge us; and to take the challenge we must tighten our belts”, he said, adding, “To do so we must ensure that all sectors and every Nigerian irrespective of position or status is involved.”

He recalled that the federal legislature had led the way in 2011 in reducing lawmakers’ overhead and recurrent expenditure in order to increase investment in capital expenditure and challenged other arms of government to follow suit.

Commenting on the budget, Senator Bukola Saraki (PDP, Kwara) commended the President’s emphasis on completion of abandoned and on-going projects before embarking on new ones.

He expressed the hope that the budget implementation would keep to the projection, saying, “We in the seventh Senate will make sure that all that is said is done, we will make sure that we work on this budget so that Nigeria can move forward.”

On his part, Senator Olugbenga Obadara (ACN, Ogun) insisted that the implementation of the budget this time must be 100 percent.

Also commenting, Senator Andy Uba (PDP, Anambra) assured that the National Assembly would expedite action on the consideration of the budget, saying, “We will work on the budget and I am sure that everybody has started working on it, in our own committee we have started working on it, so that we can get it done as soon as possible.”

Senator Gbenga Kaka (ACN, Ogun), said the N931 billion earmarked for security “is worrisome”, adding that sectors like agriculture, which got N59 billion, “ought to have got more being the sector that will generate employment opportunity for our youths and thereby engender the necessary security.”