Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
Failure by the Ministry of Finance to release funds allocated to the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in the 2012 budget has stalled the implementation of major programmes geared at generating employment in the country.
It was learnt that the finance ministry only released N300 million to the NDE in the first and second quarters of the year, from over N1 billion budgeted for the directorate in the current financial year.
The amount represents about 30 per cent of the total amount set aside for the directorate to implement its programmes and deliver its mandate to the society.
Recently, Senate Committee on labour employment and productivity who were on an oversight visit to the NDE headquarters in Abuja expressed shock at the amount released so far by the finance ministry in the last seven months.
The visit was to ascertain how the directorate has carried out its activities within the first two quarters of the 2012 fiscal year.
The committee, led by its Chairman, Senator Wilson Ake, expressed dismay that the finance ministry could starve the NDE of fund despite the importance of the directorate to the nation’s economy; particularly in the area of job creation. It observed that government has not shown any commitment in addressing the rising unemployment situation in the country.
The committee, which solicited for more funds for the NDE, called for timely release of funds as captured in the budget to enable NDE achieve its mandate of empowering the unemployed in the society.
“We are passing through the same experience everywhere, you have N2 billion, government is giving N300 million. It is the same trend in all the agencies and parastatals we have gone. It is surprising that some of the constituency domicile in the NDE cannot be executed.
“We are here to verify what is on ground because we have watched you from a distance and we believe you have worked tirelessly to ensure your mandate is achieved. The issue of unemployment is really a front-burner; therefore every serious minded person should take it seriously. From all that the committee has gathered over the years, the NDE has been working tirelessly to ensure that its mandate is realised.
“It is mandatory that we visit you and see how you are doing and the achievement you are making, and see that what is on ground reflects what is on the paper, and to see that what is appropriated is put into proper use,” Ake said.
He also urged the director to put into judicious use the funds that have been released by government noting that “no matter how little it is, if it is judiciously used, we will get somewhere.”
He assured of the Senate commitment to support the NDE to achieve its mandate geared at ensuring decent employment for the citizenry.
He further advised the NDE to focus more on resettling those that have been trained, to enable them utilise the knowledge they have acquired. “Unemployment is the third largest problem the country is facing. We need to put heads together and make sure that after training, trainees go home with equipment not necessarily money.
“This is the first stage of our visit to you, which will require us knowing the budget releases up to date, and the budget performance. We would also carry out a tour to some of your skills training centres outside Abuja to confirm for ourselves,” he added.
In his remarks, NDE Director General, Abubakar Mohammed, thanked the committee for the vote of confidence and assured that his team would not rest on its oars, until the challenges of unemployment are adequately addressed.