September 16, 2015

Reps query 2015 budget, debt profile

By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA — Members of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on non-implementation of the 2015 Appropriation Act, have expressed dismay over the handling of the fiscal plan, especially the 2015 budget and the public debt by the Ministry of Finance.

After a two-hour engagement with the ministry last weekend, the committee expressed disappointment with the poor information management relating to the state of finances and budgetary activities of the Federal Government so far in the current fiscal year.

Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Alhaji Aliyu Gusau, who represented the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mrs Anastasia Nwaobia, had made presentations to the committee on the various actions of the ministry in the current year as well as the state of the implementation of the 2015 budget.

Gusau said the country’s domestic debt has hit N8.396 trillion as at June, adding that external debt, at June 30 stood at $7.04 billion for the Federal Government and $3.42 billion for states and Abuja.

Reacting to the presenta-tions, the committee’s Chairman, Aliyu Patiegi (APC, Kwara) said: “In my view, the presentation is very sketchy and does not give a holistic view for full understanding of what the 2015 budget implemen-tation is all about.

“We had expected you to provide vivid insights into the regime of import duty waiver using explanatory notes to describe how what was done and why.

“You have not done that and we cannot say for sure that the position you presented before us is the right one because each day, companies keep declaring profits running into hundreds of billions and yet they are given incentives and waiver, when sectors such as the textile industry has no such consideration for revival.”

He urged the ministry to give details to avoid going back and forth with the explanations on key aspects of the finances of the Federal Government.

He said: “On our debt profile of N8.396 trillion, we are interested in knowing who the Federal Govern-ment is indebted to, what necessitated this huge amount of borrowing as well as how this money so-borrowed was spent.

“We also want to know from when to when did this debt accumulate and how this amount will be liquidated in both the short and long term.”