Barely three weeks to the end of the year, President Goodluck Jonathan has submitted a supplementary budget of N161.6 billion to the National Assembly.
The President is seeking the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives for the money which is to be used for settlement of cumulated fuel subsidy arrears owed marketers.
In a letter addressed to both chambers, the president said a forensic audit of subsidy claims showed an initial provision of N888.I billion for the settlement (for 2012), was underestimated.
The president urged speedy approval of the funds to forestall supply glitches, with the festive season approaching.
The Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, had assured Nigerians that the petrol scarcity being witnessed across Nigeria would be resolved before the Yuletide. The Minister blamed the scarcity on the determination to ensure transparency in the subsidy payments.
President Jonathan’s hurried proposal has now shown how the Federal Government plans to ensure petrol availability by Christmas. Paying some of the marketers quickly could make them release their stock for the festive season.
But the lawmakers appeared not in a hurry to get the proposal passed; raising concerns instead with the government’s fund receipts and releases.
A member of the House, Abdulrahman Terab, had in a motion moved under matters of urgent public importance expressed concern that revenue “receipts so far for 2012, confirmed to be higher than what was projected for the 2012 fiscal regime,” but that the fourth quarter capital releases made to government offices for December were found to be inconsistent.
“Most, if not all capital projects captured in the 2012 appropriation will henceforth remain abandoned resulting in the waste of all the resources that we have labored to commit,” Mr. Terab said.
The controversial revenue
The House of Reps also said, Tuesday, that billions of naira recovered from petrol subsidy payments and persons involved in the pension scam, as well as unspent funds from the 2012 budget and excess non-oil revenue, are missing from estimated government revenues for 2013.
Lawmakers said despite all government agencies meeting with targeted revenue profiles for 2012, releases for project funding remained dismal, further buttressing the notoriously poor budget implementation.
Still, the excess revenue have not been listed by the federal government as part of government’s revenue in the 2013 budget, the lawmakers said while debating a request for more funding by President Goodluck Jonathan, and a motion criticizing the performance on Tuesday.
Mr. Terab said various sums of money saved from non oil excess revenues, 2012 unspent revenues, Pension Reform and fake subsidy claims were neither captured in the 2013 budget proposals, nor listed as opening balances for 2013.
House committees on Finance and Appropriation are to compile within a week a comprehensive report of government revenues, expenditures, and ”unforeseen savings” during the 2012 fiscal year.
Non- remitting agencies
Meanwhile, the House Committee on Finance said of the more than 60 revenue agencies of the federal government, FG, only one remitted up to half of its generated revenues to the FG.
The startling statistics further highlighted how public funds are often misused unilaterally by government establishments in the face of serious national needs begging for funding.
The Chairman of the Committee, Abdulmumini Jibrin, said out of the 60 agencies, only one remitted up to 50 per cent to the federation account.