28 November 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government on Monday disclosed it has achieved the capital budget performance of 47 percent in 2017, adding that it hopes to achieve 50 percent before the end of the year.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure in Abuja during an interactive session with joint committees of the House of Representatives on Finance, Appropriation, Loans and Debts, as well as Legislative Budget and Planning while defending the 2018 – 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Papers (FSP)
This came just as the House of Representatives questioned the unauthorized issuance of N177 billion bonds by the Federal Government.
It will be recalled that 2017 ‘Budget of Recovery and Growth’ has a total amount of N7.4 trillion (N7, 441, 175, 486, 758) with N2.2 trillion (N2, 177, 866, 775, 864) for capital projects.
Ahmed noted that, “Capital allocation for 2017 was planned at N2.2trillion and performance today is at 47percent implementation.”
The Minister blamed the low performance on low remittances of independent revenue by generating agencies, noting that, “We expect it to increase to at least 50 percent before the end of the year”.
She, however, urged the National Assembly to impress it on the revenue generating agencies to make adequate remittances.
According to her, ”Independent revenue has continued to lag behind with low level of remittances. The GDP growth rate planned for 2017 was 1.7percent and at the end of 1st quarter, we have achieved 1.4percent, giving a positive indication that we will attain the 1.7 percent target and possibly surpass.”
However, during the interactive session, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. Babangida Ibrahim raised concern over submission by the Customs Service that import restriction on 41 items contributed to its revenue generating ability.
But the representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Deputy Governor of Operations, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, said that the restriction has helped to stimulate investments for local production.
According to him, “The restriction has helped local investors to put money into the local production of building materials, go to places like Shagamu and Ajaokuta where granite production companies have sprung up. There has been a drastic reduction of building material importation in the last two years, leading to the increased local production of these 41 banned items.”
Speaking in its own defense during the hearing, the Nigerian Customs Service, represented by Deputy Comptroller General, I.A Umar, had earlier told the committee that lack of manpower was affecting the revenue generation of the service.
He said, “The Service suffers shortage of officers and men, especially in the junior and middle cadre, will need to carry out recruitment of officers in 2018.
“The Service is constraints in its revenue collection drive as the scanners at various airports are not functioning which has adversely contributed to the inability of customs to collect revenue of certain items.”
On the alleged N177 billion unauthorised bonds by Federal Government, the Chairman of the House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Hon. Adeyinka Ajayi who raised concern on the issue said that, “I noticed there was a document submitted by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. For 2017, there was a provision for N177 billion to retire maturing bonds issued to local contractors”.
He said that the explanation of the Director-General, Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, that the money was a projection of what the present administration is expecting at the maturity of the bond when they would be issued, was untenable
According to him, “By that nomenclature, the bonds have been issued for you to want to retire it. The Parliament does not recollect the programme. Yes, we recollect a policy statement that we want to issue promissory notes for local contractors’ debts so that can liquidate it to make money, create jobs and return people to their jobs.
“That was a policy decision, but when you say to retire maturing bonds, that means those bonds have been issued. When were they issued? How much was issued? Those were the questions?”