By Soni Daniel
As details of the proposed 2017 budget are made available, more stunning budgetary items have also emerged to suggest that some agencies of the government may not be about to key into the austere arrangement of the moment.
Sunday Vanguard discovered that the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, which supervises government’s privatisation and commercialisation programme, has set aside the sum of N174 million for the purpose of ‘monitoring and evaluation of already ‘Privatised Enterprises’ in the country.
The privatised firms, according to records, are in the hands of their respective private owners and may not have any business with the BPE, which sold them out many years ago under the Obasanjo administration.
Similarly, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, which handles emergencies in the country, has budgeted the sum of N131 million for the ‘repair and rehabilitation of Air Navigation Equipment’, an assignment best suited for the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, and other aviation-related agencies.
That is not all. The Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, is setting aside an ambitious N491.9 million for what it calls setting up ‘E-procurement platform and database management as well as the acquisition of defence procurement software’.
The provision of N2.3billion by the Defence Headquarters to clear the backlog of electricity bills owed the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, which has now metamorphosed into many distribution and transmission companies, appears to be heart-warming.
Also set aside for payment in the budget by the Defence Headquarters is a princely sum of N585, 954,000 for the payment of compensation to the owners of the 269 shops at the Giwa Barracks in Lagos, that were forcefully taken by soldiers.
But the military authorities also remembered the dead.
It earmarked the sum of N35million for the rehabilitation of the Kaduna and Lagos Cemeteries, which hold the remains of the fallen heroes.
Although the budget has been presented to the National Assembly, the lawmakers are set to begin heated deliberations on it only after their resumption from Yuletide vacation on January 9, 2017.
It is not clear if the NASS would pass the budget without the usual hassles that has become the face of national budget in recent history, thereby slowing down implementation and making little dividends available to the common man at the end of every fiscal year.