HOUSE REJECTS FCT BUDGET PROPOSAL
House of Representatives has rejected the 2012 budget proposal for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for excluding development of the satellite towns. This is coming as the FCT administration is said to be groaning under N64 billion liability.
The FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, while presenting a budget of N46 billion as against the ministry's estimates of N401.3 billion claimed that the non-inclusion of development in the satellite towns in the budget proposal was informed by the fact that the towns would benefit from the Federal Government's SURE programmes.
Although the FCT was grappling with a loan liability of N64 billion from the previous year, he said the administration would spend N3 billion on the construction of new residential buildings for the Senate president, the speaker of the House of Representatives and their deputies.
The FCT administration also disclosed that N693 billion would be generated from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the next three years from its Private Public Partnership (PPP).
Though the lawmakers kept their next line of action on the N46.1 budget estimates, it was however learnt that the FCT administration would be encouraged to pay attention to developments in the satellite towns.
While defending the budget estimates before House Committee on FCT, Mohammed said residents of the satellite towns would have to pay more for utility services as the administration would have to fund provision of infrastructure and other services with Public Private Partnership arrangements.
While he asserted that government needed to provide more funds for new capital projects in the satellite towns, the minister regretted that enough fund was never allocated to the FCT.
According to the minister, the FCT had always presented budget estimates in accordance with its demands but had successively been allocated inadequate funds by the Budget Office.
'In 2009, the FCT made a proposal of N169 billion but N66.5 billion was allocated and released. In 2010, N1348.3 billion was proposed while N96.2 billion was appropriated and N64.4 billion was released amounting to 66.9 per cent of the appropriation.
'In 2011, N136 billion was proposed as FCT component in the national budget while N44.6 billion was appropriated and N30 billion was released and expended. Payments in the past three years amounted to 67 per cent of the appropriation.'
Mohammed, who lamented that the earlier N401.3 billion budget estimates prepared by the FCT would have been enough to execute its projects, however, regretted that the FCT would not be able to embark on new projects in the fiscal years 2012 as a result of the N46 billion allocated to it by the Budget Office.
'It is against this background that N401.3 billion was proposed by the FCT for its component of the national budget to off-set the outstanding debts and to be able to continue and complete the ongoing key projects of FCTA as schedule.
'However, N46.1 billion was allocated by the Budget Office or 11.47 per cent of our expected proposal. In view if this, even if the total proposed appropriation of N46.1 billion is granted to the FCT, it will only be enough to settle 71.82 per cent outstanding liabilities from the previous year.
'This means that all ongoing projects would be rolled-over from the 2011 financial year.'
When questioned about the rationale behind the payment of over N28 million for consultancy services for the construction of the National Assembly Part 11 Phase 111 with an outstanding liability of N37 million while the FCT had a retinue of certified engineers, architects and their likes in its employment, the minister said it was government policy.
'It was government policy that consultants are used for these projects to avail us their expertise, there is nothing I can do about that,' he said.