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By NBF News
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State House Permanent Secretary, Dr. Tunji Olaopa yesterday defended the over N500 million budgeted for meals and refreshment in the Presidency's 2012 budget with plans to spend another N738.8 million to buy vehicles this year.

Dr. Olaopa told the Senate Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs Committee yesterday that the proposed budget for meals and refreshment in 2012 is meant for consultations, meetings and trips for the year.

He said this, while defending the N18.353 billion 2012 budget of the State House before the Senator Dahiru Awaisu Kuta-led committee.

Dr. Olaopa insisted that the State House is largely a service bureaucracy: 'But for the intervention of the President, there wouldn't have been a reduction in the number of trips, and entourage. We would perhaps have had a lot of liabilities by now. There are a retinue of people received on daily basis and lately, because of certain events in the country, the level of consultations have increased based on the number of people.'

Senator Isa Mohammed Galaudu queried why N193 million would be budgeted for refreshments. 'I think there should be need for more prudence. I agree that you are a service-oriented bureaucracy, but I believe that the figure is high. The people are correct to show their anger over this.'

From the State House budget presentation, N356.724 million is being proposed for replacement of crested wares (1,000 sets) while N821.862 million would be spent for local and international transport and training.

To fuel and service generators for 2012, the State House has budgeted N69.544 million and another N265.1 million would be used to procure computers/accessories and office equipment.

Another N343.2 million has been allocated for office stationeries and computer, while a sub-head called welfare will gulp N285.1 million.

The Presidency in the budget for the year would spend N577.543 million to replace aged vehicles in the presidential fleet, while N168.722 million would be for fuel/lubricants.

The State House would spend N993.02 million to fuel vehicles and N54 million to fuel generators and budget for telephone would be N56.692 million.

For the office of the Vice President, refreshment and meals would gulp N208.02 million; N35.363 million to fuel vehicles; N20.802 million to fuel generators and N6.240 million for cooking gas and fuel.

Olaopa also told the committee that the State House generated N2.8 billion with Independent Revenue accounting for N126.021 million; VAT, N1.2billion; With Holding Tax, N1.39 billon and PAYE, N48.4 million.

Earlier, the committee chairman demanded to know why the State House would budget for generators instead of fixing the nation's power problems.