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Reps frown at non-release of N35.2bn capital projects fund for Niger Delta

...Akpabio demands N38.774 billion outside budget

The House of Representatives has frowned against Federal Government’s failure to release the total sum of N35.2 billion approved for the implementation of the capital projects allocated to Niger Delta Affairs, 99 days to the end of the 2019 fiscal year.

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio who spoke Tuesday at the 2019/2020 budget defence, also requested for the sum of N38.774 billion outside the budgetary allocation, for the implementation of proposed mega projects crucial to the development of the oil-producing region.

Akpabio also informed the lawmakers that the sum of $25 billion Green Bond grant which was launched in 2018 was domiciled with Federal Ministry of Environment, adding that phase 2 was expected to commence in 2019.

He added that the focus of the Green Bond fund is in the area of afforestation projects such as rehabilitation and reclamation of degraded ecosystems in the Niger Delta region which had received 80% approval of the programme.

Presenting the 2020 budget estimates, Akpabio explained that the sum of N25.911 billion was allocated to the Ministry, N1.143 billion is for personnel, N877.089 million is for Overhead while N23.890 is for capital expenditure which he described as “meagre and inadequate”.

The Minister, while addressing the House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs chaired by Essien Ayi, said, “Honourable members, in 2019 the sums of N35.2 billion and N877 million were allocated to the Ministry for capital and overhead expenditures respectively. Out of the capital appropriation of N35.2 billion, as at today, no funds have been received for capital.

“However, the recent circular by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning for the release of 40% of the Ministry’s capital in the sum of N14.1 billion is being processed, while the sum of N365 million representing five months’ allocation for Overhead i.e N73 million has been released as at date,” Senator Akpabio told the lawmakers.

“The distinguished members of the committee in the Senate felt there was need for them to see the total content of the proposal of the 2019 budget. And that of course we are going to comply with. And a date has been fixed for us to come back to them on Monday.

Akpabio stated that some of the Ministry’s mega projects such as Section I-IV of the East-West Road were moved to the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Fund, considering the dwindling budgetary allocation to the Ministry.

Responding, Ayi promised that the Committee would brief the leadership of the House for upward review of the N23.8 billion envelope for capital projects in the 9 states estimated at about N2.627 billion per state.

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