Over N4.33trn Released For Capital Projects In 3 Years, FG Discloses
The Federal Government has released over N4.33tn in the last three years to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government for the implementation of capital projects.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, gave the figure during a press briefing on the activities of the ministry and the parastatals under his leadership.
Giving a breakdown of the amount, the minister explained that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Finance, was able to release N1.2tn under the 2016 budget for capital spending.
For the 2017 fiscal period, the minister said the sum of N1.2tn was released while N1.55tn had been released as of May 8 for the capital component of the 2018 budget.
He said the focus on capital projects was based on the need to reflate the economy following the recession that the country witnessed in 2016.
He said, “An important strategy we embarked on in order to exit recession was to seek to reflate the economy.
“This was why we increased the capital budget from 16.1 per cent in 2015 to 30.2 per cent in 2016, 31.7 per cent in 2017, 31.5 per cent in 2018 and 26 per cent in 2019. We are also able to increase our capital releases.”
On why the country had yet to have a predictable budget year that would run from January to December, Udoma said while there was no legal requirement for such practice, the move would help the private sector and other economic players in planning.
This, he said, was hinged on the fact that most economic players ran a January-December fiscal year.
However, he said achieving the January-December cycle for the Federal Government budget when the operation of the current budget only commenced in June or July had been challenging.
Udoma, who lamented that such move could not be achieved in the last four years, however, expressed optimism that in the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari , the country would have a situation where the Executive and the leadership of the National Assembly were much more aligned.
This, he noted, would help to achieve a return to the January-December fiscal year, as well as enable both organs of government have much smoother budget process.
He said, “A January-December fiscal year is more predictable and would help the private sector and other economic players in planning because most economic players run a January-December fiscal year.
“Also, it would be much easier to track budget performance if both the recurrent and the capital budgets run from the same dates. It is, therefore, desirable to return to the January-December fiscal year
“However, to return to the January-December fiscal year for a budget when the operation of the current budget only commenced in June or July is a very challenging assignment.”
He added, “In order to achieve a return to a 1st of January commencement date, the budget must ideally be delivered to the National Assembly by September.
“But when you are operating a budget which commenced only in June, or July, by September you would have had no idea how the existing budget is likely to perform.
“Indeed, given the procurement process, for a budget which starts running in June or July, there might have been little or no capital releases by September.”
The minister explained that the only way the country could return to aJanuary-December fiscal year was for there to be an agreement between the Executive and the National Assembly to produce a budget on the basis of significant assumptions.
This, he stated, would require a very close working relationship of trust and synergy between the two arms of government.
On the impact of the social investment programmes on the economy, Udoma explained that as of March 2019, 1,707,932 loans had been successfully disbursed under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme.
Out of the figure, Udoma said that 1,374,192 of the loans were given under the TraderMoni scheme; while 330,568 loans were for MarketMoni and 1,172 for FarmerMoni.
He said that over 9.5 million school children were currently being fed each day in 52,604 schools across 30 states under the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
This school feeding programme, he noted, had also provided direct jobs to 101,913 catering workers engaged under the scheme.
He said 297,973 poor Nigerians across 20 states, had benefited from the N5,000 Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme and 3,517 community facilitators had been trained.
The minister also said that 500,000 graduates were benefiting from the N-Power programme and were paid N30,000 monthly; while 20,000 non-graduates in the N-Build category were either currently in training or serving as interns.