Demand monetary receipts on local travels, adverts, publicity from NEPC
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—HOUSE of Representatives Committee on Commerce, yesterday, said unless the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelemah appears before it, the Ministry’s 2018 budget defence would not hold.
The committee took the decision at the commencement of the budget defence for the Ministry and agencies under it scheduled for yesterday.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Edet Akpan had announced his presence as the representative of the Minister.
But members of the committee frowned at the absence of the Minister.
Lamenting the issue, Chairman of the Committee, Mr Sylvester Ogbaga said that the Minister was in the habit of not making himself available for any engagement with the lawmakers.
He said that a budget defence was a serious business which needed the presence of the minister.
Ogbaga stated that the committee could take on other agencies in the absence of the Minister.
He said: “When it comes to accountability, that’s why we emphasize, if we don’t have the minister, we may not engage with the main ministry at the moment. At any time he decides to be with us, no problem. The hasty nature of passing the 2018 budget is with the ministry not the lawmakers. We can only take people who will take responsibility for the funds.
“We have invited the minister. It doesn’t show any sense of responsibility on the ministry. Any agency that fails to defend its budget may not get any allocation for 2018. You cannot barb anybody in his or her absence.”
Hardly had the chairman finished making his remarks that the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Aisha Abubakar walked into the hall.
Recognising her presence, the Chairman asked that she make her presentation after which the lawmakers insisted on the physical appearance of the Minister.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State in her presentation earlier gave details of the 2017 budget performance.
According to her, only N3.8 billion had been released to the ministry which represents 16 per cent of the N19 billion appropriated for capital projects.
She said: “On the 2017 budget performance, again, the capital, we appropriated N19 billion. Actual releases to date is N3 billion which is an appropriation of only 16 per cent with an expenditure of N2.1 billion, which is 70 per cent. For overhead, what was appropriated as earlier said was N71 billion out of which only N246,592, 632.97 was released, which is 35 per cent. There is an expenditure of N224.8 million which is 91 per cent of overhead releases. For the capital project as at today, the sum stands at N3.8 billion. This was released to the ministry which is 16 per cent of the N19 billion that was expected. The bulk of the release had been utilized while others are at an advanced stages and we are optimistic that this will be concluded before the end of the financial year.”