Senate Criticises Nigerian Government’s Poor Implementation of N9trn Capital Components in Budgets

Senate Criticises Nigerian Government’s Poor Implementation of N9trn Capital Components in Budgets

The senate, on Wednesday, challenged the federal government to intensify efforts in funding the capital components of the three national budgets running concurrently.

In addition, the red chamber, on Wednesday, constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the continued importation of hazardous petroleum products and dumping of substandard diesel in the country

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Solomon Adeola, raised the issue of capital expenditure funding when Minister of Finance, Mr. Wale Edun, and Accountant General of the Federation, Dr. Mrs Oluwatoyin Madein, appeared before the panel over the budgets’ performance.

Adeola lamented the poor funding of the capital components of the budgets and urged the Coordinating Minister of the Economy to improve on that.

He said, “It is the capital component of the budgets that will showcase this government largely in terms of performances. The capital components tend to showcase various projects that will be executed by this government and people can say, oh, the government is doing this, it’s doing that.

“That is why we are emphasising the performance of the 2024 budget capital component.

“The N1.84 billion achieved so far out of a N9 trillion capital expenditure component is nothing to write home about. I would want you to, please, look towards this direction.”

Adeola urged the minister to engage more with the MDAs because most of them were not aware of the current arrangement regarding funding of capital projects.

He said, “I tell you for free, some agencies will tell you that they have not been given any money for capital, when we are fully aware that the process of payment of capital has changed.

“And I want you to do more engagement with the ministries and departments and agencies of the government.

“That shows a lot of engagement has to go on from time to time to bring it to their notice that you are no longer in charge of payment to contractors.

“I want you to, please, do a kind of continuous engagement. It will help, so that everybody can come to terms that the system has changed.”

Adeola added, “Everything about the method of payment, method of business has changed. I would say that.

“Coming back to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), we make it known that we have been assured of two million barrels.

“Long before now, we have been on 1.2 million barrels over this period. So that shows that we now have the capacity of two million barrels. Why is it now the NNPCL is assuring us of two million barrels?”

The senate panel chairman also hinted on plans by the red chamber to organise a public hearing on NNPCL where stakeholders in the oil and gas sector would be invited, including the finance minister.

He explained, “They (NNPCL) have promised to deliver on our refineries for the last couple of months, billions of dollars have been expended and nothing to show.

“The local producers have not been encouraged, the local refineries have not been encouraged. No progress has been made in this direction. So all this and more is what we look into in the future.”

Adeola, nevertheless, commended the minister for achieving 100 per cent funding of the 2023 supplementary budget.

He said, “We did supplementary budget, which we have achieved 100 per cent release, which is highly commendable.

“It will not be out of place for you to have a periodic report on the implementation level of these agencies, so that at least you can be guided on why transiting to the new method of payment as you can be guided.

“As for the main 2023 budget, we are lagging behind by over 50 something per cent. I also strongly believe that we should work around the clock.”

In his remarks, the finance minister told the senators that the federal government had made progress in its ongoing forensic investigation into the N30 trillion ways and means.

Edun also said the take-off of the electric and CNG vehicles had been held up by a spike in freight costs.

He pledged that his ministry would intensify efforts in monitoring the revenue generating agencies.

He equally said the country’s debt service was up to date.

Edun added, “The procurement of electric and CNG buses and conversion kits, more importantly, has been held up by a spike in the freight costs.

“It’s just the ingenuity of one of the young men that is in that business that I’ve got a bulk carrier that has a lower freight cost.

“Otherwise, the trade cost per bus became daunting and it made people just hold up to see whether in fact this procurement was profitable for them.”

On debt payments, he said, “We have paid $700 million in debt services for 420 national development agencies and others.”

Speaking on ways and means, Edun explained, “We are also interrogating the N22.7 trillion that we met on the ground. We had instituted forensic audit to see the impact.

“We are also interrogating the revenues that are due to us from everybody because we need to, in view of the fact that ways and means is going down rather than up. So we are servicing all the debts.”

Meanwhile, the senate, on Wednesday, constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the continued importation of hazardous petroleum products and dumping of substandard diesel in the country.

The upper chamber appointed Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, to lead 14 other senators to unravel masterminds of the illicit practice and transaction.

President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, set up the ad-hoc committee at the plenary on Wednesday, after Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong, moved a motion on the urgent need to probe the continued importation of hazardous petroleum products.

 Reports had revealed that 12 diesel cargoes conveying a total of 660 kilotons of diesel were exported by refineries to offshore Lomé, Togo, for further distribution to West African markets, mainly Nigeria.

At the plenary on Wednesday, Akpabio lamented the danger of hazardous petroleum products, stressing the need for the senate to immediately investigate and unravel those behind the hazardous practice.

Consequently, the senate president appointed Bamidele to chair the 15-man committee to investigate the masterminds and submit its report within three weeks.

Concerned about the reports, Ekpenyong observed that the quality of the said diesel was below the Nigerian standard in terms of flash and sulphur levels

He explained that the diesel “is priced below fair market value, which constitutes dumping on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, which stipulates that countries are permitted to take measures to protect their local industries in the event of dumping.

“The WTO also recognises the impact of dumping on domestic industries, and therefore stipulates tariff regimes, such as anti-dumping duties and import restrictions l measures to ensure that domestic producers are unfairly disadvantaged.”

He disclosed that even though the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) recently revised the standards of diesel importation into Nigeria in line with the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021, it had been incapable of enforcing compliance with the standards.

 He further explained that the ban on importation of diesel would be beneficial to the Nigerian petroleum industry and, indeed, the entire nation and as such, NMDPRA should cease import licenses in order to address all concerns.

Ekpenyong said if the situation was allowed to continue, local producers would have no option than to stop the commissioning of gasoline units and shutdown refineries until the regulatory environment improved.

 The senate then set up an ad-hoc committee to launch an investigation into the continued importation of hazardous petroleum products, and dumping of substandard diesel in Nigeria.

Chaired by Bamidele, other members of the ad-hoc committee included Senator Adams Oshiomhole (Edo North), Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauchi Central), Senator Osita Izunazo (Imo West), Senator Ifeanyi Uba (Anambra South), Senator Diket Plang (Plateau Central), Senator Mohammed Monguno (Borno North), Senator Abdullah Yahaha (Kebbi North), Senator Olamilekan Solomon (Ogun West), Senator Khabeeb Mustapha (Jigawa South-West), Senator Shahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North), and Senator Tokunbo Abiru (Lagos East).

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