The Nigerian Senate has summoned the minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, over the insertion of N206 billion into the 2023 budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The minister was summoned by the Senate Committee on Special Duties, chaired by Sen. Yusuf Yusuf on Monday during a meeting with Sadiya Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs on the ministry’s 2023 budget defence.
The humanitarian minister said the money was for projects in 2022, but was not released and now recurring by almost 10-fold.
The Senate Committee wanted to know why the N206 billion in the budget needed to be borrowed, stating that,
“In 2023, you intend to borrow N206 billion for a project. What are the projects to be implemented and is it captured in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework? If it is, what are the specific project locations and activities attached to this?”
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“Yes, we made mention of the projects for 2022, which were not released and part of it was part for the North East Development Commission (NEDC). The money was not released and now we have seen it recurring by almost 10 fold.
“We are also going to clarify from the ministry of finance to know why this increase in spite of the fact that the previous year, the money was not even released for the project. So we will get the details and then send them to you on that.”
She added that the upscaling of the National Social Safety-net (NSSNP) projects under the National Social Safety-Net, the Condition Cash Transfer, the updating of the National Social Register and the Rapid Response Register (RRR) are to cushion the effect of inflation.
She noted that the amount is going to be utilised because it is something that was negotiated between the ministry of finance and the World Bank.
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The chairman of the committee approved the motion to summon the minister of finance to explain the increased N206 billion.
For context: President Muhammadu Buhari proposed an annual budget of N20.51 trillion for the year 2023, a 19.8% increase when compared to the N17.13 trillion approved for 2022, including the supplementary budget.
A sum of N744.11 billion was earmarked for statutory transfers.
Non-debt recurrent costs stood at N8.27 trillion
Personnel costs at N4.99 trillion
Pensions, Gratuities, and Retirees’ benefits of N854.8 billion
Overheads of N1.11 trillion
Capital Expenditure of N5.35 trillion, including the capital component of statutory transfers.
Sinking fund of N247.73 billion to retire certain maturing bonds.
Debt service cost stood at N6.31 trillion.
Total revenue available to fund the budget for the year was estimated at N9.73 trillion, leaving a deficit of N10.78 trillion, representing 4.78% of the nation’s GDP and higher than the 3% threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007