Posted by Victor Oluwasegun, Abuja | 25 October 2019 | 620 times
The House of Representatives Committee on Finance has queried the Minister of Finance Mrs. Zainab Ahmed over the $470m Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) contract.
The contract for the installation of CCT cameras in Abuja and Lagos was made possible by the EXIM Bank of China loan.
The contract, which was executed by ZTE Corporation, has been through at least two Reps Committee investigations.
Chairman of the Committee, Rep. James Faleke (APC-Lagos) asked probing questions over the contract during the 2020 Budget defence of the Ministry of Finance and National Planning on Thursday, at the National Assembly.
His words: “Before this administration, we have collected some loans and the one that strikes me the most is the $460 million for CCTV installation in Abuja. I want to know the position of this loan, I am sure we are paying back but the CCTV is not working.
“Any time we take loan from China, the Chinese will come and do the job, they will bring all their equipment, the personnel and the goods, and yet we do not have value for the money especially that of the CCTV.
“Where are we? I need you to look into it and send us a memo on this particular aspect,” he said.
Ahmed told the committee members that only the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Authority can sufficiently answer the question.
Her words: “We are servicing the loan but on the project, we will have to ask the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Authority because the project was deployed in the FCT. I have no information on the status of the CCTV.
“The conditions of the loans that we take from China always will be that a Chinese company will provide the infrastructure services.
“These are loans that are of three per cent, the rails lines are being rolled out, the Abuja-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan rails are all loans from China and are being executed by Chinese companies.”
She further said that the Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano airport rehabilitations were done by Chinese companies and are supervised by the relevant ministries and the National Assembly to ensure quality.
She said that there are a lot of Nigerians who work with the Chinese personnel in implementing the projects which create a lot of local jobs.
The Committee also queried the Minister over the huge expenditure on furniture, phone bills and “miscellaneous” and “others” which they said usually features prominently in the budget annually.
They gave her notice of the intention of the Committee to remove such items from the budget.
But she said some of the line items especially for furniture recur because of paucity of funds, hence funding is in phases and they purchase what they can manually.
On miscellaneous and other items, the minister noted that there are things not captured in the budget and that end up being needed which is sorted under the line item.
She however said the ministry will go through the budget again and see that those that can be removed are taken out.
She said as of October, the ministry had released 100 per cent for personnel as regards the 2019 budget releases, adding that for debt service, payment is also at 100 per cent and that for overhead, six out of 10 months had been released.
According to her, the plan is to ensure that by December, every Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) should have received at least 40 per cent of their capital expenditures.
Some critical ministries, she said, had revived overhead for nine out of the 10 months, and that as of October 15, N654 billion had been released for capital expenditures. (The Nation)
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