Group Advocates Cutting Of 2016 Budget By N668.8bn

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) on Monday said about N668.8 billion could be saved and re-programmed if inappropriate expenditure was removed from the 2016 proposed budget.

The Lead Director, CSJ, Mr Eze Onyekpere, said this while presenting a report on the 2016 budget, currently being debated at the National Assembly.

He said the 2016 budget should be reviewed to remove all the expenditures that would not impact positively on the lives of the people.

Onyekpere said it had become a tradition among Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to allocate huge sums of money for expenditures that were unclear in the budget.

He cited some of these as the purchase of motor vehicles, welfare packages, software, computers, uniforms and clothing, refreshment and meals and subscription to professional bodies.

Others are maintenance of office building, residential quarters, budget preparation, residential rents, absence of price database.

Giving a breakdown of some of the expenses that made up the unclear expenditure, Onyekpere said for the State House for instance, about N3.91 billion was allocated for annual reporting maintenance of villa facilities.

He said N618.6 million for installation of electrical fittings at the villa was exorbitant.

Other expenses that the group considered as wasteful were N272 million for upgrade of mechanical power line; N322.4 million for linking of cable to drivers’ restroom at the villa and N213.8 million for linking of cable from guest house to generator house.

“Despite provision for the maintenance of villa facilities, this huge sum is being considered for the same location.

“The villa guest house and facilities have already taken so much. These seem to be a play on words around electricity for the sum of N1.83 billion.

“These cannot be priorities for Nigeria in these lean times. This is incredible and should be reduced by 70 per cent,” he said.

On the huge amount budgeted for motor vehicles, Onyepere urged the National Assembly to demand an inventory of all existing vehicles in MDAs before considering such requests.

“Purchase of motor vehicles is a common request across many MDAs. How do we determine genuine from frivolous requests?

“Should NASS demand an inventory of existing vehicles? There is need for justification before every approval.

“The demand for vehicles is even specifically tied to some foreign brands.

“This is wrong under the Public Procurement Act as only the functional specification of a product should be in the budget,” he said.

The group said rather than spend the funds for the procurement of the items, it should be re-channeled to other productive sectors of the economy.

Onyepere urged the National Assembly to do the needful and re-programme the resources for public good. (NAN)

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