NPA gets new MD
THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday dwelt on the implementation of the 2012 budget, putting the performance of the budget as at July 20, 2012 at 56 per cent.
Specifically, the Federal Ministry of Finance has released a total of N404 billion so far in funding the budget. Out of this amount, it has cash-backed a total of N324 billion.
The implementation of the 2012 budget has become a hot issue following last Thursday’s threat by the House of Representatives to start impeachment moves against President Goodluck Jonathan over alleged poor budget implementation.
Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, along with Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, Director-General, Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu; and Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Emeka Eze, said that the implementation level of 56 per cent is commendable, stating that her experience worldwide has shown that no country. implements budget 100 per cent at the end of a financial year.
She, therefore, submitted that the September date for 100 per cent budget implementation as being proposed by the House of Representatives is untenable.
Also yesterday, Jonathan approved the appointment of Mr. Habibu Abdullahi as the new Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). Abdullahi replaces Omar Suleiman who has been relieved of his appointment.
Abdullahi hails from Kano State and was the Acting Executive Director (Finance & Administration) of the NPA. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Masters Degree in Public Administration.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, also said the Jonathan made other changes in parastatals in the transportation sector.
Jonathan also approved the appointment of three new Executive Directors for the NPA. They are David Omonibeke (Executive Director, Marine & Operations); Mr. Mohammed Sani Saleh (Executive Director, (Engineering & Technical Services); and Mr. Olumide Oduntan, Executive Director, Finance & Administration).
The President approved the appointment of three new Executive Directors for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). They are Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, Executive Director, (Maritime Safety & Shipping Development); Barrister Obi Callistus Nwabueze, (Executive Director, Maritime Labour & Cabotage Services); and Mr. Baba Haruna Jauro, (Executive Director, Finance & Administration).
Okonjo-Iweala explained the nature of budget implementation:
“We have had a pattern of reviewing implementation of the budget with Mr. President, who has been very insistent that we do this. We have been meeting and discussing this on a monthly basis and so we did our usual monthly discussions to see where we are. We have been working quite collaboratively with the National Assembly on the budget. We have met with the various committees of both the House and the Senate and we appreciate the cooperation that we have from them in trying to get this budget and its implementation.
“Let me stress that the objective of Mr. President and that of the Executives is very much the same as that of the National Assembly, which is to ensure that there is budget execution in order to deliver on the development programmes for this country. To that effect, we have really been working hard to try and get this done and I think the proof that the attention the President has been giving to these issues is bearing fruit is the fact that from the review we had last month where implementation and utilisation of resources was at 39 per cent, we are now at 56 per cent. So we have moved from 39 per cent as at the end of May to 56 per cent as at July 20.
“So, I think that is a very good progress and we expect to see continuing progress in that particular area. As you know we have released about N404 billion so far, cashed back N324 billion and the utilisation of that is 56 per cent. We will soon be considering the release of the third quarter funds, we hope to do that within the next two weeks or so. We do face a couple of challenges that we have also been working with the National Assembly on. Effectively and quietly, we have been working with them on a couple of these challenges. The first is of course many of the constituency projects and new projects put into the budget needs to be designed and to have feasibility studies because there are new and of course this takes a little bit of time to get those in time before MDAs can actually begin the process of procurement which also takes time. To follow the law and you follow the way that the projects are implemented, that takes a little bit of time to get the design of a new project, to get the feasibility study and so on. We are very committed to getting these projects done. You can’t really plung into the implementation of a project before you have a feasibility study.
“Second is that there are some moves within the budget, during the time that the budget was considered by the National Assembly at the time the committees were considering, they did move some resources from one category to the other in comparison to what the Executives had presented. And we have been working with them quietly and effectively to try and make sure that those resources are moved into areas where ministers can actually implement. We hope that the good cooperation we have had with the National Assembly will continue in rectifying some of these moves which you find in the budget because it will also enable MDAs to implement the budget a bit faster.”
In answer to a question, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala noted that both the Executive and the National Assembly “are both interested in the same thing, the proper implementation of the budget for the benefit of the Nigerian people. And there is absolutely no controversy about that.”
Am sure that as the figures of the utilisation of budget and implementation are made known and as the National Assembly members get more of this information that the meeting of minds will become even more. We have been very open and transparent about the information we have. We have shared with them the tables showing where we were in terms of end of May and am sure that as they get the information as at July 20, which is 56 per cent, they will see that we are very much working to the same purpose on the same page.
She added: “In terms of 100 per cent implementation, I think that what I read that was said by sections of the National Assembly, will have to do 100 per cent implementation of the budget by September. First in my experience worldwide, there is hardly any country where you would implement one hundred per cent even by the end of the year. And this is based on very broad experience. But people try to get at least to eighty something ninety per cent of the budget, as much as can be done. 100 per cent by September, you know September is the ninth month of the year, so we will definitely be moving. I think the point is that Mr. President is determined to implement this budget as fully as possible and therefore we will be moving towards the figure of as full implementation as we can by the end of the year because the budget was made for the whole year. So you can see that there is no lack of effort, no lack of goodwill. If we could go from 39 per cent in May to 56 per cent by mid July that shows a considerable leap. And I’m quite confident that as we go month by month both us and the National Assembly will be able to look at it and say yes a good effort has been made for the country.”
Maku said the Council also approved a bilateral agreement between Nigerian and Turkey in the area of education.
He explained that the agreement would give room for co-operation between the two countries in the areas of higher education and exchange programmes for students as well as direct co-operation between education institutions. President however directed that the Ministry of Education should ensure that it focuses on areas where the nation has comparative advantage.
Also, the Council discussed the report of a committee that investigated the collapse of Navy Building in Gwarinpa and resolved that all those responsible for the supervision of the building should be identified and appropriate punishments meted out to them.
Maku said the committee discovered that the building was poorly constructed, causing a stress that led to the collapse. The minister said the Council was of the view that the time has come for Nigerians saddled with responsibilities to be adequately punished whenever they perform below expectations or standards.
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