Bolaji Adebiyi in Abuja
Ostensibly responding to the National Assemblyâ€™s complaint over the low implementation of the capital component of the 2017 Appropriation Act, the Ministry of Finance Wednesday finally released N739 billion to the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, in a release memorandum to the Federal Treasury Department, dated December 20, 2017 and cited by THISDAY, directed the immediate release of the sum to the MDAs, thereby bringing the total capital vote releases for the fiscal year to N1.189 trillion.
The National Assembly has been very critical of the executive arm of governmentâ€™s low-level implementation of federal budgets, describing this yearâ€™s as the worst.
Efforts by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to return the budget cycle to January-December suffered a setback on Tuesday when the Senate refused to proceed with the passage of the 2018 budget estimates on the grounds of low implementation of the 2017 budget, which was rated at around 20 per cent.
Senators expressed their dismay that only N450 billion out of N2.17 trillion allocated for capital expenditure had been released, about six months into the life cycle of the budget.
Adeosun, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday to defend her ministryâ€™s estimates, had tried to assuage the feelings of the visibly angry senators, telling them that in addition to the N450 billion that was released in June, an additional N750 billion had been disbursed to jack up the implementation level of the capital vote.
With the additional funding, said Adeosun, most of the MDAs would have achieved above 50 per cent implementation, while a few would be around 40 per cent.
A finance ministry source told THISDAY that the N750 billion released Wednesday would bring capital implementation to about 50 per cent, adding that this would be a good showing for a budget that had only run for six months.
On the disparity between the N750 billion that the minister told the Senate had been released and the N739 billion indicated on the release memorandum, he said the difference might have gone to institutions that are self-accounting and whose votes have a first line charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federation, including the judiciary and the legislature.
Last year, the federal government released N1.3 trillion out of its N2.17 trillion capital spending estimates.