BY BEN AGANDE & EMMA OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — The House of Representatives, yesterday, slashed President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for virement by N66.5 billion as it approved only N31.9 billion of the N98.4 billion requested by the President.
To ensure that the essence of the virement was not defeated, the lawmakers also extended the budget implementation period to March 2012 in order to ensure effective implementation of capital projects across the country.
Submitting its recommendation, yesterday, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Mr John Enoh, noted that some ministries and agencies, namely Foreign Affairs, Science and Technology, Culture and Tourism, Mines and Steel, Federal Civil Service Commission, Service Wide Votes, Public Complaints Commission, National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP); ICPC and National Sports Commission, were ommited.
Of the money approved by the House, FCT got N940,703,866 against N17,067,478,034; Federal Ministry of Agriculture got N820,650,668 of the N6,374,772,436; Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development got N2.9 billion while Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs got N10.9 billion.
Federal Ministry of Aviation got N3.953 billion against N9.4 billion; Education N538,285,620 against N7,768,824,003; Defence/Nigerian Army N1 billion against over N3 billion; National Sports Commission N810,667,452 against N1,454,893,610; N6.549 billion for Federal Ministry of Health; N3.4 billion for Police Formations and Commands while Public Complaint Commission got N15 million.
Enoh deplored abitrary transfer of funds between ministries and agencies, contrary to clause 4 of the 2011 Appropriation Act, saying the transfer was irregular.
“In presenting this report, we are so mindful of our responsibility as a committee constituted to guide the House in taking the right decision on appropriation matters without laying a faulty precedent that would impact negatively on our legislative process in the area of ‘power of the purse.
“Accordingly, we find it difficult to recommend for approval proposal on the 2011 recurrent budget as requested by the Executive,” Enoh stated.
Contributing to the debate on the committee’s report, Sekonte Davies emphasized that the virement should be implemented within specified fiscal year, January 1 and December 31, as specified in the Appropriation Act.
He also observed that there was need for proper amendment of the Act, while the Minority Whip of the House, Samson Osagie, described the request for virement few days before the end of each fiscal year inappropriate.