House Appropriation C’ttee Increases N180bn Virement Request to N208.8bn

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Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation has increased the 2016 budget virement proposal of President Muhammadu Buhari from N180 billion to N208.8 billion.
The report of the committee laid before the House wednesday contains a proposal of N25 billion to take care of debts and liabilities to local contractors.

Buhari in a letter to the Speaker of House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, dated October 20, 2016, had however requested for the virement of N180 billion.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, Hon. Mustapha Bala Dawaki, laid the report after the House passed a motion with a prayer to “receive and approve the request for virement of funds in the Appropriation Act, 2016, as follows…:”

The report would subsequently be listed for consideration and its recommendations either adopted or rejected by the lawmakers.

Dawaki, noted that the committee observed that there are other areas of critical needs with potentials for development and stimulating the economy for which additional funds could be provided through virement from the Special Intervention Programme.

He added that the committee had met with the relevant stakeholders and the affected MDAs justified the need for intervention and approval of the virement for their respective agencies.

Breakdown of the N208.8 billion is as follows: Service Wide Vote: Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA)- N71,800,215,270, Contingency – N1,200,000,000, Margin for increase in Cost (MIC) – N2,000,000,000, Ministry of Interior: Cadet feeding-Police Academy, Wudil, Kano- N932,400,000, Amnesty Programme- N35,000,000,000, Internal Operations of the Armed Forces, – N5,205,930,270, Operation Lafiya Dole – N13,933,093,000, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development: NYSC- N19,792,018,400, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Foreign Missions- N16,349,647,078 and Federal Ministry of Education: Augmentation of Meal, Subsidy/Direct Teaching & Lab Cost – N900,000,000.

Others are Statutory Transfer: Public Complaints Commission, – N2,500,000,000, Ministry of Defence (capital): Nigerian Air Force (NAF)- N12,708,367,476, Capital Supplementation: Presidential Initiative for the North-east (PINE) – N1,500,000,000, Payment of local Contractors Debts/Other Liabilities – N25,000,000,000.

“That the sum of 300 million appropriated in the 2016 Budget under the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for the construction of 132 KVA Substation at Gwaram, Jigawa State be vired for the Reconstruction of Fallen Towers, Replacement of Glass Insulators, etc. for Gagarawa, Jigawa State (TCN01B021775),” the motion read.

The House also called for urgent action to ensure food security in the country amidst reports that the massive rate of export to Libya, Algeria, Brazil and other countries, could lead to shortage of grains by January 2017 in Nigeria.

The House therefore mandated its Committee on Agricultural Production and Services to investigate the situation with a view to ensuring that the Ministry of Agriculture synergises efforts with relevant MDAs towards developing an action plan to avert the unhealthy export at the expense of local demand.
Hon. Abubakar Danburam Nuhu (Kano APC) in a motion of urgent public importance said the troubling export is being facilitated in markets in Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi and Jigawa, with an estimated 500 truckloads of grains leaving the markets weekly.

The government, Abubakar noted, is desirous of ensuring food security amongst other competing ends in order to affirm the objective of diversification while also enhancing export opportunities and self sufficiency.
In another development, the House Committee on Health Services has said the 15 per cent budgetary allocation goal to health as agreed by the Abuja Declaration of 2001, may not be immediately realisable in Nigeria as several sectors compete for scarce resources.

The committee lamented that the 2016 budgetary allocation to the sector fell by 33 per cent, indicating a paltry 4.7 per cent decline from six per cent in 2013.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Chike Okafor, speaking with THISDAY on the sidelines of a hearing on revitalising Primary Health Care (PHC) system in Nigeria, said stakeholders in the sector are eventually targeting 15 per cent allocation.

“There are several sectors begging for attention, but the journey of a thousand miles starts with a step. Health remains a priority so we want higher allocation particularly PHC, because 75-80 per cent of health issues are treatable at that level,” he said.

He noted that while the House does not implement budgets, it would enhance oversight of the relevant MDAs to ensure that funds for provision and running of the PHCs are not used for other purposes.
Okafor also advocated that PHCs be put on the exclusive list to enable the federal government employ and pay medical doctors and some health workers and post them to the wards.

He added that the committee is ready to partner with state governments for the promotion of PHC facilities and for alignment of their policies with national strategy.