The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday raised concerns over poor implementation of the 2014 budget.
The Senators, during the 2015 budget defence by Ministries Departments and Agencies, particularly expressed concern about the non-release of funds for capital projects.
The lawmakers vowed to carry out their over-sight duties effectively before the end of their session and also to sanction officials who deliberately refuse to give funds for different projects.
Victor Lar, representing Plateau South senatorial district, expressed his frustration with the non-release of funds. He said the issue of non-release of funds needs to stop as it causes a major depreciation to the Nigerian economy.
“A situation where we consider a budget, have it approved, then somebody sits in an office and refuses to make releases is too bad.
“Is that an economy that is growing?
“We need to change the way we do things because if we have a problem and you keep on using an approach that has not yielded the desired results, common sense demands that you change the approach,” he said.
Mr. Lar added that the presentation done by the Minister of Steel and Mines, Musa Sada, would aid the growth of revenue profile of the ministry from a non-oil sector perspective.
“A serious nation would have encouraged this ministry to ensure that everything required was provided but this is the same ministry that had been subjected to the same envelope system, to the same non releases among others.
“It is now becoming part of our tradition to get budgets approved as a parliament and someone refuses to provide funds for its implementation,” he added.
Chris Ngige, representing Anambra Central Senatorial district, said Nigeria’s economy would not grow if the issue of non- release of funds is not corrected as soon as possible.
“We budget about N50 billion for capital projects and only N20 billion would be released at the end of the day because there is no cash backing,” he said.
Ibrahim Gobir representing Sokoto East Senatorial district said that whenever money is requested, a very low percentage is given.
The members of the committee on Lands and Housing expressed their worries as to how the housing challenges will be tackled when funds are not released.
This was in reaction to the Minister of Lands and Housing, Akon Eyakenyi, who said her ministry was owing contractors, over N39 billion. She said the debts will affect upcoming projects.
At the Committee on Establishment and Public Service, Aloycious Etuk, representing Akwa Ibom State, referred to the funds allocated to the MDAs as “shameful and unacceptable”.
Mr. Etuk advised that the different agencies device other means to carry out their projects.
Also at Tuesday’s sitting, the Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kefesi, told a Senate committee that N11.5 billion was budgeted for the Head of Service of the Federation in 2014 with the breakdown as N5.1 billion for Personnel Cost, N1.9 billion for Overhead Cost, and N4.1billion for Capital Cost.