Posted by Taiwo Adisa, Abuja | 5 April 2019 | 1,550 times
The Senate Committee on Communications on Thursday frowned at the management of the Ministry of Communications on Thursday over the abandonment of about 104 capital projects approved for it in the 2018 fiscal year.
The projects were unveiled when top management of the Ministry led by the Minister, Adebayo Shittu appeared before the committee for the 2019 budget defence.
Submissions made by the Ministry indicated that out of the 121 capital projects approved and appropriated in 2018, only about 17 projects have reached varying degrees of completion leaving a larger percentage either not funded or not executed at all.
It was also revealed that, out of the 82 projects listed in the 2019 budget, 52 are new projects which made the senators asked questions on whether such projects should be reviewed.
Committee chairman, Senator Gilbert Nnaji (PDP Enugu East) who was represented by the committee’s Vice Chairman, Senator Isa Misau ( PDP Bauchi Central), said situation were projects are approved with money appropriated but abandoned is worrisome.
He said: “This scenario is worrisome. Does it mean that all budgetary items that were either poorly funded original are actually not relevant and important to the ministry ab initio?
“What is responsible for the underutilization of the total releases by the ministry? From the document before us, the ministry utilized N449 million (20.57%) out of the N2.1 billion released.”
Missau who said they relied on the strength of information forwarded to the Committee by the Ministry observed that the same old story of insufficient funding was prevalent just as it obtained in the previous fiscal years.
“For the main Ministry in 2018, out of a Capital Expenditure budget of N5.4billion, only a sum of N2.2billion was released leaving an outstanding of N3.2billion,” he queried.
On the 2019 budget proposal, Misau said the committee observed that total proposal for the Communication sector which is pegged at N18.1billion for the fiscal year 2019 is N1.6billion less than N91.7 billion approved in 2018.
“We further observed that the total Capital Expenditure proposal for the sector in 2019 (N5.5billion) is about 30.6% reduced from N8.0 billion approved from N8.0 billion approved in 2018.”
“Again, the Ministry alone is proposing another round of 82 projects in 2019 out of which 52 are completely new projects.”
“The Committee would like to know the rationale for proposing another round of new projects when a vast sum of projects was either left unexecuted or half-executed.”
The Minister in his response, said based on the budget circular given to the ministry concerning budget proposals, they were asked to rollover projects which made them to introduced 52 new ones.
The minister stated that the Ministry could not spend all the money released to the ministry because of the delay in their releases baring in mind that procurement processes take time.
He added that the ministry needs more releases before the end of this fiscal year and promised that all funds made available to them would be utilized.
•Sourced from a Tribune report
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