James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Agriculure and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has disclosed that farmers will hold 40 per cent of total shares in the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) by the time its commercialisation is concluded by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would own 10 per cent of the bank, Ministry of Finance 10 per cent, while institutional investors would buy the balance of 40 per cent.
Speaking when he received members of both the Senate and House Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development, led by its chairmen, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Hon. Mohammed Monguno, the minister, however, lamented the huge N6.70 billion overhead on its personnel in the 2017/2018 budget.
He also indicated that the ministry was unable to achieve 100 per cent budget performance partly because of late releases of capital expenditure.
According to him: “The focus today is 2017/2018 budget performance. In 2017, we have a total release of N48, 140, 990, 891 billion.
“On capital we had a total release of N185, 933, 273 million; Overhead on the personnel was N6, 704, 856, 830 billion.”
The minister said: “We had releases in three tranches in 2017 in first quarter, second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter as indicated because we inherited liabilities from GES in 2017, which was arriving from 2016, and the minister believed that that would impact negatively the ability to provide inputs for farmers to use a component which was budgeted in the budget to settle that liability.”
This was just as Monguno called for collaborative initiative between legislature and executive to reduce delays in the release of funds and removal of agriculture from traditional budget as issues concerning agriculture is time bound.
He said the ministry should not be made to comply with the Public Procurement Act as it tends, “to constitute a clog in the wheel of fast-tracking delivery of services to farmers.”
Nonetheless, Ogbeh said: “Our performance for 2017 was practically 100 per cent of release. We had very serious issue with overhead as one of the largest ministries we have only N185 million for the whole year, which was just 40 per cent of what was proposed.”
He said: “We did pretty very well in 2017 but because the budget did not perform 100 per cent, and eagerness of the ministry, especially we have to address issues on import substation and value chain expansion and development, infrastructure development and other services, and then other agricultural projects.
“For 2018 the budget started to perform mid into the year. The first release was in September. Agriculture is seasonal and nobody can delay it. That impacted somehow negatively on our performance in 2017, and is till affecting our performance in 2018.
“We have received 52 per cent of our approved budget already this year, which is about N52 billion, and out of that we have already performed to the tune of 50 per cent.
“In 2018, we have so far received N21, 476, 313, 862 billion representing about 52 per cent.
“So far we have performed to the tune in percentage terms 54 per cent. There are lots of provisions in the Procurement Act that makes procurement delayed and we are happy the National Assembly is looking at and reviewing the Act.”
Ogbeh said: “Our total budget for this year is N98, 961, 267, 654 billion, we have so far received N61, 776, 312, 862, and we have utilised N24, 579, 333, 24 billion.
“Still leaving an outstanding balance that we are struggling to spend is N26, 896, 979, 838 billion. This is the summary of our budget performance.”
Adamu said the visit was “in strict compliance with the constitution, and the two committees represent the two chambers because of convenience we decided to meet together.”