Ministries, agencies get N404.1billion for capital projects, fuel subsidy, says Okonjo-Iweala

Ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have received about N404.1 billion from the Federal Government so far for capital projects as contained in this year’s budget, Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said on Thursday.

The Minister who spoke with journalists on the state of the 2012 capital budget in Abuja confirmed that contrary to speculations in some sections of the media, the Federal Government has not suspended fuel subsidy payments.

Specifically, the Minister said out of the N404.1billion released for implementation of various projects in the MDAs, about N239.8billion has been cash-backed, with about N94.1 billion so far expended. The expenditure figures represent about 39 per cent of the cash- backed approval.

Okonjo-Iweala explained that first quarter 2012 releases totalled N304.1 billion, while the balance of N100 billion was released in the second quarter, pointing out that much more funds would have been released for projects during the six-month period, adding that the MDAs were still implementing the 2011 budget up to the end of the first quarter based on the extension of the year’s budget.

She assured that government has taken steps to ensure that financial years do not exceed the 12 month calendar period, while the implementation of the current year does not spill-over to 2013.

“For first quarter, we released N304.1 billion,” Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said. “We cash-backed to N239.8 billion and cash backing means we have released with warrants and then some of that warrants, we need some agencies to write us when they are ready to do their spending. The reason you don’t see cash-backing for the N304 billion is because some agencies are not ready to make their requests to spend on capital because they are still spending part of their 2011 budgets.

“Out of the N238.9 billion that was cash-backed, we have utilised N94.1 billion, equivalent of 39 per cent. So, what this means is that we released N304 billion, we cash-backed or made instant pay available for expended N239.8 billion.

“But agencies, as at the end of May, spent N94.1 billion, or 39 per cent. So that means that many agencies still have a lot of room within the first quarter for spending. Now this performance is not surprising giving the fact that last year budget was extended to March”, she said.

On the fuel subsidy payment issue, the Minister explained that in addition to the N451 billion paid so far on the arrears of fuel subsidy claims for 2011 financial year, an additional release of N17 billion had also been released for the 2012 claims.

According to her, the Committee set up by the Federal Government to review the entire subsidy payment regime following the sack of the auditors would release its report next week after which government would act on its recommendations.

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