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2019 Budget: Reps queries Trade Ministry over N600m increase in personnel cost

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The House of Representatives Committee on Industry, on Tuesday, queried the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment over an increase in its personnel cost in the 2019 budget.

The Committee Chairman, Rep. Abubakar Moriki (APC-Zamfara), called attention to the estimate when the Minister, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, and the management of the ministry were at the National Assembly for 2019 Budget Defence in Abuja.

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The  total budget for personnel cost in the 2018 Appropriation Act was N2.1 billion.

Moriki asked while the ministry proposed 2.9 billion for it personnel cost in the 2019 budget, making an increase of N693 million for the fiscal year.

”Can you justify the over N600 million increase in personnel cost? Will there be recruitment in the ministry in 2019 and if yes, how many workers will be employed?

”Is the money meant to cover the backlog of salaries in terms of recruitment in 2018 or is it to take care of the staff salaries who have been promoted,” he said.

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He, however, demanded for the nominal roll of the ministry to justify the proposed appropriation.

Also speaking, Rep. Wale Raji (APC-Lagos) asked why the Weight and Measures Department of the ministry remitted only 80 per cent of revenue generated in 2018 to the consolidated revenue fund while the remaining 20 per cent was retained in the ministry.

Responding, Mr Enelamah attributed the increase in the personnel cost to the expansion in the ministry’s staff strength.

”In terms of the increase in personnel cost, I think it reflects just the growth in personnel both in terms of promotions and the new hires between 2018 and 2019.

”Maybe based on the 2018 performance or experience, they budgeted for some increase in personnel which I am sure we would send you a nominal roll,” he said.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Edet Akpan, explained that if newly recruited staff were posted to the ministry through the Federal Civil Service Commission or Head of Service, the ministry cannot reject such postings.

He said though the Weight and Measures Department of the ministry generated substantial revenue within the 2018 fiscal year, 20 per cent of the revenue was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the ministry for its administrative expenses.

Moriki, who said that the House committee would, in two weeks’ time, embark on its oversight function in the ministry, said there is the need for periodic oversight to guard against some controversial issues.

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