By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North & Babajide Komolafe
ABUJA—The Presidency plans to spend at least N2.3 billion on local and international travels and transportation next year.
The proposal is contained in the 2014 appropriation bill submitted by President Goodluck Jonathan through the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to the National Assembly last week.
A breakdown of the figure showed that the State House would require the sum of N1, 219, 612, 417 for what it called Local Travels. International travels and transportation will gulp N1, 159, 240, 600 .
For the whole year, the Presidency intends to spend N200 million for the provision of foodstuffs/catering supplies while it also plans to expend another N162,556,500 on meals and refreshments.
For honorarium and sitting allowances, the Presidency has budgeted a princely sum of N320 million for that purpose just as it has set aside the sum of N33.8 million for the office of the Vice-President to take care of his foodstuffs and catering supplies as well as meals and refreshments in the year.
Under the arrangement, N23.8 million will go for foodstuffs and catering supplies while the balance of N10 million will be spent on meals and refreshments in the office of the second in command.
In the same vein, the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is expected to spend the sum of N568,859,940 on honorarium and another N51, 403,464 on meals and refreshments within the fiscal period.
A scrutiny of the budget proposals however showed that the Presidency shied away from making any provision for the controversial Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, whose head, Arunma Oteh, has been embroiled in a ceaseless war with the National Assembly.
The lawmakers had vowed not to approve any budget for the commission until Oteh was removed but President Jonathan ignored them and their resolution.
In the same vein, the Federal Government made the same yearly provision of N150 billion for the National Assembly but did not give any breakdown of the sum.
It is not clear if the NASS would be in a hurry to pass the budget given the furore that attended the presentation of the document.
Controversy had mounted to the extent that President Jonathan had to back out of the presentation and later sent the Finance Minister to represent him.