Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, has queried some items in the 2016 budget, adding that the fiscal document contained N668.8 billion expenditures that are “frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful.” The budget, which has drawn flaks from some Nigerians, was presented to the 8th Assembly some weeks ago by President Muhammadu Buhari The group stated this in Abuja yesterday while unveiling a report that analyses the 2016 budget.
Lead Director, CSJ, Eze Onyekpere, who presented the report under Citizens Earth Platform, CEP, insisted that the budget should be reviewed in order to remove all expenditures that are of no value to the generality of Nigerians. He said it had become a tradition among Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to allocate huge sums of money for expenditures that are unclear in the budget.
Some of the frivolous items the group uncovered are purchase of vehicles, welfare packages, software, computers, uniforms and clothing, refreshment and meals and subscription to professional bodies. Others are maintenance of office building/residential quarters, budget preparation, residential rents, and absence of price database, among others For instance, Onyekpere said N3.91 billion was allocated for annual reporting maintenance of villa facilities, while N618.6 million was budgeted for installation of electrical fittings.
Other expenses that the group considered wasteful are N272 million for upgrade of mechanical power line, N322.4 million for linking of cable to drivers’ restroom at the villa and N213.8 million for linking of cable from guest house to generator house. He said: “Despite provision for the maintenance of villa facilities, this huge sum is being considered for the same location. “The villa guest house and facilities has already taken so much. There seems to be a play on words around electricity for the sum of N1.83 billion. “These cannot be priorities for Nigeria in these lean times.
This is incredible and should be reduced by 70 per cent.” On the huge amount budgeted for vehicles, the group in the report, urged the National Assembly to demand an inventory of all existing vehicles in MDAs before considering such requests. The report said: “Purchase of vehicles is a common request across many MDAs. How do we determine genuine from frivolous requests? “Should NASS demand an inventory of existing vehicles? There is need for justification before every approval. The demand for vehicles is even specifically tied to some foreign brands.
“This is wrong under the Public Procurement Act as only the functional specification of a product should be in the budget.” The group said rather than spend these funds for the procurement of these items; it should be re-channeled to other productive sectors of the economy. Meanwhile, budget defence of the Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, OSGOF, was yesterday stalled at the House of Representatives Committee on Works due to conflicting documents about what the Agency and the Law had. Drama started when the Toby Okechuwku-led Committee faulted the 2016 budget proposals of OSGOF, saying it was not in tandem with what President Muhammadu Buhari laid before the National Assembly.
Director General of OSGOF, Ebisintei Awudu, blamed the budget office for the discrepancies, explaining that they prepared the budget based on the templates given. He said when they appeared before the Senate Committee on Works, they had to be turned down because the Committee asked whether OSGOF now construct roads. Awudu explained that what he was defending before the Committee was what his agency gave as obtained from the Senate Committee. “At the budget office, there is a template and software given to us. In our documents before the Senate, there was the construction of roads for N200 million.
“We are not here to cause confusion, we only removed what was not ours,” he said. When asked on the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of OSGOF, the surveyor general said N1.6 million was remitted into the Federation Account. However, the committee chairman described the N1.6 million as unreasonable. “I know how much surveyors make. There has to be some level of creativity. Our expectation is that you need to be up and doing,” he said. Okechuwku directed that discrepancies in the budget should be corrected, while a later date would be approved for its defence. A breakdown of the agency’s budget shows Overhead cost at N139 million, Personnel N867.5 million, while N1 billion is for capital projects.
Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) faults 2016-2019 MTEF’s presentation
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has faulted some media reports credited to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, which indicated that the Federal Executive Council (FEC), endorsed the MTEF 2016-2019.
Lead Director of the outfit, Mr Eze Onyekpere, in a statement yesterday in Abuja pointed out that “although the minister was reported to have used the word “approval”, it is pertinent to note that the FEC has no power of approval over the MTEF. The power of approval belongs to the legislature vide the Fiscal Responsibility Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.”
According to him, the proposal is for N6 trillion which is about N1trillion extra on the 2015 federal budget and the supplementary budget. 30 percent of the budget is stated to be for capital expenditure, while the remaining will be for recurrent expenditure.
This, he added is simply a continuation of the norm of the practice of previous budgets as not much has changed. Generally, the weight of the allocations to recurrent and capital expenditure is not usually determined by what is appropriated. It is determined by available resources and releases at the end of the day to MDAs for both capital and recurrent expenditure.
“The budget is predicated on a benchmark price of $38 per barrel. Ordinarily, this would seem reasonable but considering the prevailing circumstances in the international oil market especially the return of Iran to the market and the refusal of OPEC members and other producers to cut down on production, the actual price of crude oil for next year may be a bit lower.
We have to do oil revenue projections with caution considering the strong headwinds against the upsurge in crude oil prices. The daily projection of 2.2million barrels is realizable. “On the other hand, the bulk of the revenue will seem to come from non oil revenue but the details for a realistic review and comment are not yet out in the public domain. Also, the sectoral details of expenditure are not yet out. This calls for urgent action on the part of government to put the
Isaac Adewole: Rats changed health ministry’s budget
Isaac Adewole, minister of healthhas disowned the 2016 budget allocation for his ministry, saying his ministry did not submit what was presented before the national assembly. Adewole also added that the state house clinic, which was allocated more money than all federal hospitals, is not under the supervision of the health ministry.
Adewole said N15.7 billion allocated for capital projects had been removed and reallocated to other areas. “In the revised budget as re-submitted, N15.7 billion for capital allocation has been moved to other areas. Some allocations made are not in keeping with our priorities,” he said.
“There is nothing allocated to public health and family health. Over the last two years, nothing has been done on HIV. We have to look into the details of the budget and re-submit it to the committee. “This was not what we submitted.
We ‘ll submit another one. We don’t want anything foreign to creep into that budget. What we submitted is not there.” Speaking on the controversy surrounding the state house clinic,
Adewole said the “rats” could be at work again, inflating and smuggling figures into the budget. “The state house clinic is not under the ministry of health. I hope it’s not the same rats that changed things in our budget that changed it. “The amount is meant for procurement and purchase of medical equipment. It is very important that you engage them because what happened to us might have also happened to them.
Nigeria’s 2016 Budget Fiasco
Chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives committees on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje and Representative Abdulmumin Jibrin said the February 25 target for the passage of the 2016 budget is no longer realistic.
The two lawmakers said that the National Assembly observed during the ongoing budget defence that government ministries have padded their budgets and because of this, lawmakers require more time to thoroughly work on the budget.
At a budget defence session on Tuesday, the Customs Comptroller General and the Minister of Finance got into an argument over what he said is the poor remuneration for Customs officials.
Issues such as these, which have been playing out in the budget defence sessions, have led the National Assembly to postpone the date which it set for the passage of the 2016 budget.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation said that lawmakers also observed complaints from different quarters arising from the imbalance from the capital allocation. The National Assembly has however not come out with a new date when the 2016 budget would be passed.
In January this year, hundreds of copies of Nigeria’s 2016 budget had gone missing at the country’s parliament.
The new delay is likely to worsen Nigeria’s economic crisis as it deals with the impact of plunging oil prices.
MTN Nigeria selects Gemalto for first commercial rollout of GSMA Mobile Connect authentication service
Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO), the world leader in digital security, has been selected to provide its LinqUs Mobile ID platform to MTN Nigeria. This new project, operated for MTN in SaaS mode by Gemalto Allynis Services, marks the first commercial rollout of SIM based services delivering convenient mobile authentication for all mobile users. Compliant with the latest GSMA standards, Mobile Connect, ‘MTN Token’ is available immediately to MTN Nigeria’s 70 million subscribers and positions the operator as the country’s foremost provider of secure digital identification and authentication.
MTN Token offers their users a universal digital ID combined with a mobile-based second factor authentication, for easy and secure web service access, payments and financial transactions validation. When using MTN Token for eCommerce, banking, insurance, ePublic and corporate networks services, the user’s mobile phone number is employed as the username.
Depending on the level of protection required by the service provider, the process is completed by simply pressing OK on the handset, or entering a unique user-selected PIN code.
Any service provider in Nigeria can now easily adopt MTN Token services to dramatically strengthen protection of online services against identity theft and cybercrime. It also enables the operator to offer a convenient digital journey to its customers, removing complex registration and log-in processes, while sparing them the hassle of remembering new username/password combinations.
MTN Token leverages the secure SIM vault, creating a trusted environment for sensitive data and transactions, without the initial infrastructure investment required by in-house implementations.
“With the launch of MTN Token, we are the first private provider of secure online identity and positioned as a warrant of digital ID and authentication in Nigeria,” said A’isha Umar Mumuni, General Manager, Products & Innovation at MTN Nigeria. “As our network of service providers adopting MTN Token grows, the solution will deliver significant reductions in fraud whilst easing the frustration often experienced by consumers on their digital journeys.”
“The long-established partnership between MTN Nigeria and Gemalto is the perfect foundation for this ground-breaking project,” said Eric Claudel, President for Middle East & Africa at Gemalto. “Bridging the gap between security and convenience, Mobile Connect represents the future of user authentication. It also fully supports operators in monetizing new value added services
Nigeria’s vision 2020 to be likely updated
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, hinted of the ministry’s plans to update Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 agenda with a view to taking account of development priorities and the ‘Change Agenda’ of the current administration.
She added that the move was targeted at enabling the country’s long-term development agenda align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She drew the attention of the senators to some outstanding bills awaiting approval at the National Assembly.
Nigeria’s $25b Infrastructural Fund Gains Traction
The plan of the Nigerian government to raise a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund from the global community and establish long term bankable projects is gaining traction, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says.
At a meeting with a delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, the Vice President said: “We have seen considerable, favourable interests from some Sovereign Wealth Funds and other nations”.
Explaining the idea of the Fund to the delegation, Professor Osinbajo said that the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which manages the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, was leading the project.
He stated that the Infrastructural Fund would create opportunity for commercial partners to participate in the building of the nation’s infrastructures alongside the Federal Government.
This would be done through the establishment of bankable projects that involves such commercial partners.
One of the partners, the China-Exim Bank has agreed to finance the railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar.
“We expect these will generate some economic activities and create jobs,” he stressed.
“No Easy Choices”
The Vice President also reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to raise revenue internally to fund the budget, including an expansion of VAT coverage but not an increase of the VAT rate.
“At 20% coverage the VAT coverage now, the Federal Government intends to do much better giving a boost to the country’s tax revenues,” he said.
A statement by the Vice President spokesman, Laolu Akande, said that the delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was led by Mrs Nike Akande who declared the support of the Chamber for the Federal Government’s fight against corruption and acknowledged that in the current economic situation that the Buhari presidency was having to deal with “there are no easy choices”.
Mrs Akande, a former federal Minister for Industry, called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to find a foreign exchange regime that would boost the confidence of investors and remove uncertainty.
The Vice President told the delegation that the Federal Government was focussed on finding solutions to the economic situation, through a focus on building infrastructure and also diversifying the economy, especially through agriculture.
He said that the government was also focussing on creating an enabling environment for business and investments in Nigeria to thrive.
Emphasis On Power
Professor Osinbajo also received a delegation from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
He praised the telecom operators, stating that “there is no question at all about the importance and contribution of the sector especially since the 2001 privatisation”.
The Vice President pointed out that the telecom sector was one of the sectors in the economy that had created a significant impact.
He reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve to develop critical infrastructure in Nigeria, especially in the power sector which was an area of concern expressed by the operators at the meeting.
“The 2016 budget has a lot of emphasis on power, infrastructure, and we are hoping to make considerable progress, with fairly consistent spending on infrastructure over the years, we’ll fare better,” he told ALTON members.
Earlier, the Chairman of the association, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, presented an industry report to the Vice President entitled “the Socio-Economic Impact of Telecoms in Nigeria.”
Adebayo also expressed concern of the telecom operators on ‘multiple taxes’ and some of their equipment destroyed by insurgents in the Northeast.
He told the Vice President that the industry had recorded over 120 million subscribers since 2001.
Responding to the concern raised about taxation, the Vice President encouraged the telecom operators to be diligent in the payment of taxes and avoid delinquency, while suggesting that judicial or legislative options be considered in the resolution of what the operators described as ‘multiple taxation’.
While observing the important role of the telecom industry and acknowledging its contributions to the economy, the Vice President sought the cooperation of the telecom companies in national security issues.