Pursuant to President Goodluck Jonathan’s pledge to get the 2013 budget ready before the end of the year, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Friday announced that the draft of the Appropriation Bill is ready.
The minister, who was briefing reporters at her office in Abuja, said the draft document will be presented to the National Assembly by the president latest October 4, for consideration and approval.
“The draft 2013 Budget is ready in September,” Ms Okonjo-Iweala said. “Mr. President promised that the 2013 Budget will be ready in September and the budget is ready. We are talking with the National Assembly. We are having very fruitful discussions, and we will now fine-tune it preparatory to the President’s presentation before the National Assembly on October 4.”
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who used the occasion to review the implementation of the 2012 budget, said as at the end of the third quarter in August, apart from about N404 billion released for the first and second quarters, a total of N710.4 billion of the Capital budget appropriation was released to the various Ministries, Departments and agencies, MDA. She put the total budget utilization by the MDAs at about 70 per cent by the end of August.
Taken as a percentage of the amount cashed backed, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said the total utilization figure would come to about 58 per cent, while utilisation as a percentage of amount released is 45.2 per cent.
However, the computation of the amount cashed backed (N320.9 billion) as a percentage of the total Capital Budget appropriation (N1.32 trillion) shows a poor performance at about 24.31 per cent.
But the minister, who refused to provide the computation of the figure, said such computations would be unfair, as the implementation of the budget by the MDAs did not commence at the beginning of the year.
“It would be unfair to talk about the percentage of the amount released as a percentage of the total capital budget appropriation, because the budget started in April effectively, and if that ratio is given, it would seem as if the MDAs started implementing the budget from January,” she said.
More subsidy payments made
On subsidy payments to petroleum products marketers, Ms Okonjo-Iweala said that additional sum of about N56.8 billion was paid to 14 beneficiaries in the last one week based on the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on Subsidy Payments headed by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, which cleared them for payment.
She listed some of the benefiting companies to include Integrated Oil and Gas, MRS Nigeria Oil PLC, NIPCO PLC, North-West Petroleum Oil & Gas, Oando, Rain Oil, Shorelink Oil & Gas, and Total Oil.
The payment, she said, was in addition to about N78.8 billion disbursed to 24 companies, and another N259 billion paid out previously to various marketers prior to the constitution of the Imoukhuede committee.
“The process to pay marketers is a continuous one in line with the policy of government to carefully verify all claims before disbursements are made. As the Aig Imoukhuede Presidential Task Force clears more companies, further payments would be made,” she said.
The minister, who debunked claims that the return of long queues in most cities nationwide, including Abuja and environs, was as a result of the non-payment of subsidy to marketers, blamed the crisis on the vandalism of petroleum pipelines.
She said the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was working hard to repair the damaged pipelines, assuring that normalcy would be restored once the work is completed.
On allegations that the 36 states governors were on their way to the court to challenge the continued operation of the Excess Crude revenue Account, the minister denied knowledge of the action. She said the only information available to her was about plans by the state chief executives to ask the court to halt further deductions from their monthly allocations in the federation account for fuel subsidy payments.