FG can’t fund NASS constituency projects, AGF insists

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, on Wednesday, appeared before the Senate Joint Committees on Ethics, Appropriations, and Finance and restated his earlier position that the revenue accruable to the country was not enough to fund the constituency projects contained in the 2016 budget.

Lawal, who told the senators that he was expressing his personal opinion over the issue, lamented that the  estimated revenue profile of the country for this year had already dropped by 50 per cent.

He also said some of the constituency projects like construction of a mini stadium would not have direct impact on the people hence the executive had designed zonal projects that would make meaningful impacts on the citizenry.

He declared that the Federal Government could not fully implement the N6.06tn 2015 budget because the revenue had dropped by between 50 and 60 per cent.

The SGF was in the Senate to defend his comments in an interview he granted to one of the national dailies that the Federal Government might not implement constituency projects in the 2016 budget.

He blamed the drop in revenue on the activities of militants in the Niger Delta region.

He said the oil benchmark of the Federal Government for the 2016 budget had been drastically dislocated and grossly affected by activities of militants, lamenting that at a time the country was producing about 800,000 barrels per day.

Asked whether he declared that constituency projects would not be implemented  Lawal said, “The statement is correct. That is my statement; we cannot guarantee the implementation of constituency projects in the 2016 budget.

“As a government, constituency projects are championed by members of the National Assembly. Like the legislature, members of the executive are politicians who canvassed for votes.

“Lawmakers are aware that oil barrels had dwindled to about 800,000 per day. This has led to the inability of government to finance the budget. It is the duty of government to prepare the minds of Nigerians ahead that there will be challenges in implementing the budget.

“Government based its principle on zero budgeting this year. Funds will be released to finance key projects in line with the implementation plans of the government. I will explain why it will be hard for the government to implement the budget.

“I spoke with the Minister of Budget this morning (Wednesday) and I asked him the revenue base of the government. We are now receiving about 50 to 60 earnings from what we projected.

“Some Ministries, Department and Agencies may find it impossible to implement projects appropriated in their budgets. We have to re-prioritise. I like us to understand that this is the background upon which I made that statement.”

The Federal Government scribe added that he knew that statement might not be palatable to the legislature or the citizens and the MDAs that were facing challenges in implementing the budget based on the funds available to them.

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