The Federal Government has announced that it had so far released N280bn from the N350bn set aside for capital projects as contained in the 2016 budget.
It stated that the funds had been sent to the Federal Ministry of Finance for onward disbursement to six ministries and over 50 agencies, adding that the funds were for ongoing projects and for new ones.
This is coming as the Bureau of Public Procurement stated that it had projected to save N48bn for the government through the electronic procurement system, while implementing the 2016 budget.
The Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, stated that the release of the N350bn was ongoing, but explained that projects to be funded must be thoroughly scrutinised.
Ahmed, who spoke during the budget review and inclusive monitoring workshop organised by BudgIT, a non-governmental organisation in Abuja, said, “The release of the N350bn is ongoing, but of course, we are not releasing the budget just based on giving out funds with respect to allocations. We need to scrutinise the projects; it took some time, but we have sent about N280bn for projects that have been scrutinised and the release will be for special projects.
“And recommendation was on projects that are ongoing, except for a few exceptional circumstances. We are not releasing funds for new projects.”
Asked to name the Ministries, Departments and Agencies to benefit from the fund release, she said, “We have sent to the Ministry of Finance for up to about 50 MDAs or 60, but I can tell you that Power, Works and Housing; Agriculture; Interior; Education; Information and Environment are part of the ministries that we have sent to. We have reviewed their projects, approved them and have sent them to the Ministry of Finance.
“There are about 60 MDAs already in the first batch. We have another batch of about 30 where the screening process has been concluded and we should be able to send that today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday).”
On how the country would save N48bn through e-procurement, the Director-General, BPP, Mr. Ahmed Abdul, who also attended the event, stated that the initiative would reduce corruption created by human interface.
He said, “We are looking at implementing the electronic procurement system for the country. The whole idea is that most of the issues or corruption related issues are arising from human interface. Through electronic procurement, you will reduce human interface; and by so doing, you will increase efficiency and as well save a lot of money while implementing your budget.
“We have a projection that if we adopt an electronic procurement system, we are going to save about N48bn. This amount will be saved in 2016 if we can successfully adopt the electronic system of procurement.”
The Lead Partner, BudgIT, Mr. Oluseun Onigbinde, stated that the government should ensure an inclusive budget, as previous budgets had recorded poor capital implementation.
“The expansionist approach of the 2016 budget is very bold but the assumptions on which the document was made straddle the edge of unfeasible expectations, specifically with respect to non-oil revenue and independent revenues,” he stated.