Senate okays Buhari's N213bn virement fund request
The Senate has approved the virement of N213 billion as against the N180 billion requested by President Muhammadu Buhari to fund critical projects in the 2016 budget.
The increment followed by a presentation by chairman, senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje.
At the plenary on Tuesday, Goje explained that during the interactions with the MDAs, the committee observed that there other critical areas that should be covered by the virement.
The report of the committee shows that N167 billion was vired for recurrent expenditure while N44 billion was vired for capital projects and N2.5 billion was vired for statutory transfer.
In the capital project, Ministry of Defence willl get N12.7 billion, payment of local contractors debts/ other liabilities to gulp N25 billion, and Presidential Initiative for the North-East to get N1.5 billion.
Also, Senate approved the sum of N300 million appropriated in the 2016 budget under the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for the construction of 132 KVA susstation at Gwaram, Jigawa state to be vired for reconstruction of fallen towers, replacement of glass insulators.
The report shows that total amount for the virement is sourced from recurrent and capital component of the Special intervention Programme.
The approval was not without disagreement.
The priority funding area in the approved virement legislation places emphasis on funding for capital projects as a vehicle to jumpstart the economy through job creation.
Speaking on the development, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, stated that the Senate believes that the Presidency will target the funding of local contractors as a way to push more resources to different areas of the country.
“As we work to release these special intervention funds for critical recurrent and capital items, it is important that these contractors have a track-record of efficient and quality work”, he stated.
Saraki also stated that the Senate would utilize its oversight powers to ensure that the contracts follow a competitive bidding process, and that the projects themselves have a positive impact on the economy of local areas through the economic multiplier effect.
“Moving forward, as we round out the year,” he said, “The Senate and the Presidency, will continue to work cooperatively to utilize the 2016 budget as a tool for economic growth and relief for local communities.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu kicked against the increase of the request from N180 billion to N213 billon, noting that it was not constitutional.
He was however countered by the Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, who posited that as Deputy Senate President for eight years under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ekweremadu, never complained about constitutionality of virement .