President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to consent to his administration’s plan to make an external borrowing of $29.960bn.
According to the President, the money is meant to execute key programmes and infrastructural projects across the country and will cover projects between 2016 and 2018.
This is as the President also asked the lawmakers to approve for virements totalling N180.8bn in the 2016 budget to cater for required votes by some sectors of the economy.
The requests by the President were contained in two separate letters he sent to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara. The letters were read on the floor of both chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The president on Tuesday wrote, seeking for approval of transfer of N180 billion from the N500 billion appropriated for Special Intervention Programme to finance other key projects.
In a letter read during Tuesday’s session by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the projects to be financed with the N180.839 billion include the Amnesty programme, National Youth Serve Corp (NYSC) and the Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA).
According to the letter, the Amnesty Programme is to get a total sum of N35 billion from the transfer.
The letter reads: “The total recurrent expenditure requirement to be transferred is N166,630,886,954 while the capital expenditure requirement to be transferred is N14,208,367,476.”
A breakdown of the specific areas the N180.9 billion would be transferred to showed that Public Service Wage Adjustment takes the lion share of N71,800,215,270; followed by the Amnesty Programme, which took N35billion while the mobilisation of corps members received N19,792,018,400.
Others are: Foreign Missions which gulped N14,667,230,014; Operation Lafiya Dole takes N13,933,093,000; Nigerian Air Force takes N12,708,367,476; Internal Operations of the Armed Forces takes N5,205,930,270; Margin for Increase in Cost takes N2billion, while Presidential Initiative for the North East received N1.5billion.
Also, Contingency, salary shortfall for Public Complaints Commission got N1.2 billion each, even as Cadet Feeding of Police Academy, Kano Augmentation of Meal subsidy for Unity Colleges received N932,400,000 and N900,000,000 respectively.
Explaining the need to make more funds available to the amnesty programme, the President said: “Only N20,000,000,000 (already fully released) was provided in the 2016 budget for the Niger Delta Amnesty Progr mme.
“Consequently, the allowances to ex-militants have only been paid up to May 2016. This is creating a lot of restiveness and compounding the security challenge in the Niger Delta.”
On the NYSC funding, Buhari said: “The Provision for NYSC in the 2016 budget is inadequate to cater for the number of corpers to be mobilized this year. In fact, an additional N8.5billion is required to cover the backlog of 129, 469 corps members who are currently due for call-up but would otherwise be left out till next year due to funding constraints.”
The President’s letter also explained why the sum of N71.8 billion has to be transferred from the intervention programme.
“Similarly, the provision for meal subsidy for the Unity Colleges is inadequate for the number of students in the schools. Also, there was no provision for feeding of cadets at the Police Academy, Wudil, Kano. These situations are hampering the operations of the affected agencies.
“The provision for Statutory Transfer to the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) was reduced to N2,000,000,000 in 2016 from N4,000,000,000 in 2015. Consequently, the agency is experiencing difficulty in paying salaries of its personnel as and when due.”
He continued: “Due to the devaluation of the Naira, the budgetary provisions for the foreign missions are no longer sufficient to cover all their costs.
“The provision for Presidential Initiative for the North East (N12,000,000,000) has a balance of less than N1.5bn, and there continue to be emerging challenges with the Internally Displaced Persons (lDPs) in the zone.”
By Ehisuan Odia and Ebere Ndukwu….
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