Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udo Udoma, on Saturday said despite the delay in the signing of the 2016 budget, the Federal Government planned to achieve 100 per cent implementation.
The minister’s Media Adviser, Mr. James Akpandem, stated this in a statement made available to journalists.
Udoma had shortly after Buhari signed the budget on Friday told State House correspondents that although it was the aim of the government to achieve 100% implementation; the reality was that it might not achieve the aim because it started late.
But Akpandem in the statement said while Udoma conceded in the interview that the late approval might constrain full implementation, nevertheless, the Federal Government intended to still try its best to achieve 100 per cent implementation.
The statement read, “The Federal Government aims and will be working to achieve 100 per cent implementation of the 2016 budget in spite of the late signing of the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
“This clarification becomes necessary to clear the misrepresentation by some newspapers that full implementation of the budget has been ruled out because of the late start.
“Responding to a question from State House correspondents who sought to find out whether, given the late approval of the dudget, it would still be possible to achieve 100 per cent implementation, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, conceded that the late approval might constrain full implementation. Nevertheless, the Federal Government intends to still try its best to achieve 100 per cent implementation.
“At no time did the minister rule out the possibility of full implementation as indicated by one or two newspapers.”
Meanwhile, the planned release of the N350bn by the Federal Government for capital projects that was intended to stimulate economic activities may be delayed by procurement processes, it was learnt.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had on Thursday said the government would be pumping N350bn into the economy this quarter when the budget was signed.
“As soon as the budget is signed, we are going to pump N350bn into the economy in this quarter and we are going to do so every quarter until we stimulate growth. We will see growth if we spend money on those things that would create jobs,” she said.
But investigations by one of our correspondents showed that while the Ministry of Finance had anticipated that the fund would be released once the budget was passed, the procurement process, which usually accompanied the process of awarding contracts, might not make this happen immediately.
Based on the Bureau of Public Procurement, there are nine essential steps that usually accompany the process of awarding contracts in the public sector.
The steps are efficient procurement plan driven by needs assessment; adequate appropriation, advertisement, transparent pre-qualification/tender; and bid submission/opening.
Others are technical and financial bid evaluation; tenders board/Federal Executive Council approval; contract award/execution and project implementation.
A top official in the Ministry of Finance, who spoke to our correspondent on Saturday, said while the ministry had wanted to release the N350bn fund to the various MDAs to start the implementation of the capital component of the budget, majority of the government agencies had been waiting for the budget to be signed into law before they commenced the bidding process.
The official, who did not want his named mentioned, said, “The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is in a hurry to stimulate the economy though the release of funds for capital projects.
“You will recall that two days ago, the Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said as soon as the budget was signed by the President, a total sum of N350bn would be injected into the economy to stimulate activities.
“That money is ready but we have realised that it might take a while before it would be released owing to procurement processes.
“We are in a government that wants things done in line with laid down procedures and based on the procurement law, the contract processes usually takes between four to 12 weeks.”
The source said the entire blame would not be put on the MDAs, owing to the fact that some of the agencies of government were not too sure that their projects would scale through at the National Assembly.
“The release of the fund would have been made faster if some of these MDAs had commenced the procurement processes even before the budget was assented to, but you know how things work in the civil service,” the source added.
Attempts to get the Media Adviser to the Finance Minister, Mr. Festus Akanbi, to comment on the development were not successful as repeated calls sent to him did not connect while a text message sent to him had yet to deliver as of the time of filing this report.
Some of the projects that are expected to be implemented through the fund are the Lagos-Ibadan expressway project; Enugu Port Harcourt road project; and the second Niger Bridge project.
The construction of Kano Maiduguri road which has a budgetary allocation of N16bn, Abuja-Lokoja road (N10bn), and Apapa-Oshodi road (N5bn) are also expected to benefit from the fund.
Others are the Sokoto-Kontagora road project where the sum of N4bn had been allocated in the budget; Ilorin-Jebba road project, N6bn and Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road project, N6bn.
Apart from road projects, government would be channelling funds to other infrastructure projects in the housing and power sector.