Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Out of a total capital vote of N1.3 trillion in the 2012 Budget, the Federal Ministry of Finance has so far made releases totalling N710.4 billion to the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) since the implementation of this year’s budget commenced in April.
The total releases of N710.4 billion is about N306 billion higher than the N404 billion released as at June.
Of the N710.4 billion released, N535.2 billion is cash-backed, and N320.9 billion of the amount has been utilised by the MDAs— representing 58 per cent of the cash-backed funds while 45.2 per cent of the releases (N710.4 billion) have been utilised by the MDAs.
Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who gave the figures in Abuja, said: “Implementation of the 2012 Budget could not begin till April because MDAs were still implementing the 2011 Budget up until the end of March. This is why this is important; as long as we delay implementation, it is very difficult to talk about ratio. If you want to talk about implementation, you then have to measure it from April, May, June, July, August and September. It will be unfair to go and have a ratio over the entire thing.”
The minister stated that efforts were being intensified to ensure higher budget implementation before the end of the year, even as she disclosed that constructive engagements with the National Assembly had commenced to see how to start implementing the 2013 Budget from January next year should the 2013 Budget be passed within this year.
Around July, the level of implementation of the 2012 Budget had been a subject of intense controversy and had pitched the executive arm of government against the National Assembly, particularly, the House of Representatives.
The lower chamber had flawed the claim by the minister that the level of implementation of the 2012 Budget had risen from 39.2 per cent in May to 56 per cent as at June 20, insisting that on the contrary, implementation then stood at 34 per cent.
However, in a statement issued by her Special Assistant, Mr. Paul Nwbuikwu and captioned “Okonjo Iweala Insists on Transparency and Careful Management of Nation’s Resources”, the minister had restated that the total capital budget for 2012 stands at N1.3 trillion with releases as at July standing at N404 billion, adding that the cash-backed portion of the capital budget was N324 billion of which 56 per cent had been utilized
“Nigerians should be reassured that the 2012 Budget is being managed in a way that protects and enhances the best interests of the country,” she said, adding that transparency and prudence remained the key priorities of the federal government in the management of the 2012 budget.
“Our objective is to achieve both higher budget implementation and better management of the country’s resources. We will not toy with public resources because they belong to all Nigerians,” she said.
She explained that “the improvement in implementation ratio from 39.2 per cent by the end of May to 56 per cent utilisation of cash backed resources by June 20 was made possible by the direct leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan who is personally leading the drive for better budget performance.”