Committees Submit Harmonised 2021 Spending Estimates to N’Assembly Thursday

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•Say N400bn needed for maintenance of federal roads annually

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The harmonised 2021 N13.08 trillion spending estimates will be ready for presentation to the National Assembly by the Joint Appropriation Committee of the Assembly on Thursday, THISDAY has learnt.

This is just as the lawmakers stated that not less than N400 billion will be required annually to maintain the 35,000 kilometre-stretch of federal roads nationwide.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, said at the weekend that the Joint Committee on Appropriation was working towards ensuring the submission of the harmonised report on the rejigged N13.08trillion 2021 budget proposals.

He said with the submission of all budget estimates from the subcommittees, the next stage of work for the appropriation committee would be to carry out the required scrutiny of the reports, harmonise with the House of Representatives for submission at both chambers on Thursday.

“The process of presentation of reports as regards the 2021 budget estimates for the various MDAs by the various committees scrutinising them is over since all of them have submitted their reports.
“What remains now is for those of us in the appropriation committee to collate the reports in harmonisation with the House of Representatives for final consideration and passage by both chambers.

“Timetable for that has already been drawn up and we shall work assiduously in keeping to it by submitting harmonised report of the budgetary proposal to the Senate on the 3rd of December, 2020 for final consideration and passage latest by the following week,” he added.

Meanwhile, the federal lawmakers have said that for the federal roads to be motorable at all times, N400 billion will be required yearly for maintenance.
It described the N38 billion earmarked for that purpose in the 2021 budget proposal as too low for it to make any impact.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Senator Gersome Bassey, explained that road maintenance in a country like Nigeria where road transportation is most used for the movement of people, goods and services can only be effectively carried out with about N400billion yearly.

He said: “What the committee has just submitted to the appropriation committee for such exercise in the 2021 fiscal year is the N38 billion proposed for it by the executive, which cannot cover up to one-quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.

“Unfortunately, despite having the power of appropriation, we cannot as a committee jack up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portions of the road. Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media.

“But the situation on the ground as far as the committees on FERMA at both Chambers are concerned, is very bad, requiring far more than N38billion earmarked.
“If the roads are well maintained on a yearly basis, reconstruction and rehabilitation which require bigger amounts of monies and years to carry out may not be necessary as frequently as they are now.”