BY EMMAN OVUAKPORIE
ABUJA — BARELY five days after signing the 2012 budget into law, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, wrote to the National Assembly requesting some amendments to the 2012 Appropriation Act as passed by the parliament.
The president in a letter to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Aminu Tambuwal, said his request was based on the increase in the oil benchmark by the parliamentarians to $72 per barrel from the $70 per barrel upon which the 2012 proposal sent to the National Assembly was premised.
In the request, the president wants the National Assembly to alter the appropriation to the amnesty programme with the most notable being the request for the increase in allocation for “reintegration of Niger Delta ex-militants from N924 million to N45.2 billion.”
Jonathan told the lawmakers of the deficiency caused in the budget through the increase in the oil benchmark on the revenue expected to accrue to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the Universal Basic Education, UBE, which depend on percentage from the National budget to arrive on what should be given to them.
He said: “You may wish to recall that the original 2012 Budget was predicated on a benchmark price of $70.00pb, while the passed budget has increased it to $72.00pb. As you are aware, the allocations to NDDC and UBE under the Statutory Transfer are normally computed as a percentage of the revenue accuring to the Federal Government.
“The increase in the benchmark price of crude oil from $70.00pb to $72.00pb requires that the allocations to these agencies be adjusted to reflect the increment. It appears that the Appropriation Bill inadvertently retained the old figure thereby resulting in a shortfall of N1.91 billion for NDDC and N1.97 billion for UBE. I, therefore, seek your cooperation to adjust these allocations to reflect the higher benchmark price.
“The Subsidy Re-investment Programme, SURE-P, was designed specifically to address the infrastructural challenges as social safety net. In order to monitor the implementation of the programme, a board was set up to monitor the implementation and report on its progress.
“The 2012 Appropriation Bill did not separate the SURE-P from the rest of the budget. I, therefore, seek your cooperation to reflect it separately in the Bill to make it easier for the board to effectively perform their monitoring mandate.”
In his request for the change in allocation to the amnesty programme, Jonathan said the request was borne out of the need for release of more resources for the implementation of the core aspects of the programme as against the cost of administering it.
In his request for readjustment, the president requested a reduction in overhead of “stipend and feeding allowance” under the programme from N48.2 billion to N20.7 billion,” increase in re-integration of Niger Delta ex-militants from N924 million to N42.2 billion, reduction of “operations cost of the programme from N16 billion to N3.1 billion” while allocation for reintegration of transformed Niger Delta ex-militants (2010 arrears) put at N4.1 billion was scrapped totally.