House of Representatives Committee on Regional Planning and Urban Development on Thursday faulted the Minister of State, Power, Works And Housing, Baba Shehuri and the Permanent Secretary, Muhammad Bukar over duplication of the 2018 budget for the 2019 proposals.
Members of the Committee during budget defence by the Minister and the Permanent Secretary at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja described the 2019 appropriation for the Sector as a “copy and paste” budget.
The lawmakers frowned at the lack of details of expenditure in the 2018 budget and demanded the inclusion of overhead column on the document with accurate accounts of releases and how they were spent before the 2019 proposal could be considered.
There action followed the concerns raised by a Member of the Committee, Nichola Ossai (PDP, Delta) who queried the bureaucrats for details of personnel spending as it relates to unit-by-unit allocations, as well as how releases were done, and if they were done according to each sub-heads or ‘done omnibursely’.
Ossai insisted that the minister must provide answers to his questions before the Committee could proceed with consideration of the 2019 budget proposal, a demand that wasn’t met before he (Ossai) left the meeting.
The panel also demanded details of staff who travelled for a certain African Union event and how much was spent per head as well as another trip relating to UN Habitat event which coincided with the General Assembly in 2018 and called for detail information of officials on the trip and amount spent on them.
Members also noted the absence of overhead allocation in the documents presented, asking if they also lumped it up with personnel cost and spend as they come.
In his response, the Permanent Secretary told lawmakers that personnel cost is not being managed by the Ministry, saying they could not provide details because it was not specified earlier but would do so if necessary and that the Ministry’s personnel emolument is a function of the new Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
On why the 2019 document was a photocopy of 2018 as noticed by Saheed Fijabi from Oyo state, a Director in charge of Finance in the Urban and Regional Development Department could not give satisfactory answer when referred to.
When the Permanent Secretary murmured to Hapsatu Mormoni, Head of Budget on why the column for overhead was not added to the document and conspicuous duplication of items bearing semblance of 2018 proposal but she in turn pointed at the Director of Finance and his staff apparently blaming them for the error.
Earlier, while presenting the 2018 budget appraisal the Minister of State, Shehuri said “the sum of N128,353,065,392.00 was appropriated to the Housing Sector of the Ministry in the 2018 fiscal year. Out of this amount, the Urban and Regional Development Department received a total capital allocation of N1,229,535,392”.
On releases, performance and implementation of the 2018 budget, he said “the sum of N373,431,919.01 which represents 30.37% of the sum of N1,229,535,392 appropriated in the 2018 Appropriation Act for the Urban and Regional Development Department was released”.
“On the 2018 Budget Performance, the Urban and Regional Development Department received the sum of N373,431,919.01 which represents 30.37% of the appropriated amount in the 2018 Appropriation Act.
“The amount released was utilized to pay for outstanding Certificates owed contractors for various projects executed under Urban Renewal and Slum Upgrading Programme, commemoration of the World Habitat/Cities Days and preparation and conduct of study for sustainable development of the urban centres” he added.
James Kwen, Abuja