Only N1bn Spent In N500bn Social Intervention Fund, Says FG | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Only N1bn Spent In N500bn Social Intervention Fund, Says FG

NIPR
Posted: Nov 22, 2016 at 4:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

 

 

*MDAs, Presidency Differ On N180bn Virement

 

Rotimi Akinwumi

 

Abuja – Facts emerged Monday at the Senate that the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government has spent less than N1 billion of the approved N500 billion on its avowed Social Welfare Scheme, one of the major campaign promises of the party during the 2015 general elections.

Mariam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President for Social Protection Plan, who made the stunning disclosure to the National Assembly Joint Committees on Appropriation stated that since the budget became law earlier this year, the sum of N25 billion had been released to the scheme, but less than a billion naira has been spent so far on the programme.

She made the disclosure at an interactive session with the joint sitting of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation where officers from the presidency had come to defend the President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for virement of N180 billion from the N6.06 trillion 2016 budget,

A mild drama also played out at the joint sitting when some officials of the agencies for which the virement was being sought told the committee that they actually needed less than what the presidency is recommending and requesting the approval of the parliament for, on their behalf.

Agencies like the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Niger Delta Amnesty Programme and the Public Complaints Commission disputed the figures quoted for them by the government while some said they need less, others said they needed more.

Speaking on the Social Protection Scheme, Mariam Uwais told the stunned lawmakers that even though the year has less than 40 days to wind up, the government has been able to spend less than one billion naira on the implementation of scheme for which the sum of N500 billion requested for by the presidency was approved by the National Assembly.

She, however, expressed optimism that another N40 billion would be released to it before the end of the year.

According to her, there is still hope that some N60 billion could be spent on the scheme before the end of the year.

 

Uwais said: “Out of the N500 billion appropriated for the social intervention programme, we have not spent up to N1billion. We have been preparing, we have the framework in place but unfortunately, we did not get the release early enough. By the end of this month, we would have spent up to N60 billion.”

The joint committee expressed shock that the Social Intervention Scheme which was a key campaign point of the administration could be treated with such disdain to the extent that only less than one billion had been spent out of the huge N500 billion.

Members of the committee led by the chairman of the Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Appropriation, Dajuma Goje and Mustapha Bala Dawaki, respectively, raised issues about the readiness of the executive arm of government to implement the scheme.

Leading in expressing dismay on the slow implementation  of the social implementation scheme, Senator Goje  said: “I don’t know if you are aware that this your agency is borne out of our campaign promises. And you’re here to say that you don’t need the money. You don’t need the balance of the money, you want it appropriated to other agencies. After we have promised people that we are going to provide them money and the money will be sent to them. It’s quite sad”.

The conflict in the figures presented by the president and those by the agencies first became noticeable in respect of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) where the official of the agency and the Director General of the Budget Office argued over the allocation made to the NYSC.

The embarrassing development aroused the attention of law makers when the Director of Finanace and Accounts in NYSC, Mr. AIB Adeleke, informed the committee that the Corps only needed N8.5 billion as opposed to the N19.792 billion proposed by the President.

Suprised, Senator Goje asked Adeleke to be sure of his facts and figures but the NYSC finance director stood his ground.

Within the few minutes given to Adeleke to get his facts right, the Senior Special Assistant to the President of National Assembly Matters (Senate), Solomon Ita Enang, rose and walked to him and they spoke in low tones.

The embarrassed Director-General of Budget, Ben Akabueze, swiftly informed the committee that Adeleke surely got the figures mixed up.

Akabueze said there was another sum of N11.2 billion which the NYSC had requested earlier in the year adding that the President simply wanted to take care of all the needs of the NYSC at once by asking for N19.792 billion for the agency.

When called upon later to declare his final position, Adeleke simply rose to say “I agree with the submission of the DG Budget.”

Other agencies which presented conflicting figures with the President’s figures include Public Complaint Commission which asked the committee to approve the sum of N2.5 billion against Buhari’s N1.2 billion.

Also, the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme for which the President voted N35 billion asked the National Assembly committee to approve N35.2 billion.