The Senate relied heavily on the executive arm to transmit to the National Assembly on an annual basis, the budget envelope for approval.
He also frowned at the abandonment of the Ajaokuta iron and steel project due to the failure to provide the required budget allocations on an annual basis.
The Senate expressed this through its Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy during the budget defense exercise.
The anger of the committee members over the budgeting of the envelope and abandonment of the Ajaokuta Steel project was sparked by the proposed budget estimate of 23.4 billion naira for 2022, enveloped for the Ministry of Mines and Development of the steel as presented by the Minister of State, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah.
Dr Ogah, who represented Minister Arch Olamilekan Adegbite in his presentation, said that of the ministry’s budget profile of 23.4 billion naira in 2022, 10 billion naira is for personnel costs, 1.47 billion naira for overheads and 11 billion naira for capital expenditures.
Irritated by the presentation, the members of the commission denounced one after the other the meager budgetary allocation for the sector which according to them should come second after the oil and gas sector.
Specifically, the chairman of the committee, Senator Tanko Al-Makura (APC Nasarawa South), said that âthe annual ritual called budget is the entry and exit of garbage, which will get the country nowhere. with regard to the required diversification. .
âThe type of budget process implemented in this country over the years is stereotypical. It is wrong for the budget to be conceptualized at the ministry, wrapped up and sent to the National Assembly for approval.
Accelerating the pace of anger in his own contribution, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West) said President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic team is clearly out of step with the realities on the ground when it comes to the needs of Nigerians.
“How on earth could a minister come up with 82 billion naira for the purchase of mosquito nets and a sector as important as solid minerals, given 10 or 11 billion naira?” he fumed.
The Ajaokuta steel complex, which can provide work for around 50,000 Nigerians, he lamented, is lying fallow in a country with an army of unemployed young people who can organize revolution at any time.
âNigeria is bleeding from this form of envelope budgeting riddled with repetitions and allowances on an annual basis.
âThe government may be building infrastructure, but building infrastructure is not as good as creating wealth through diversification of the economy.
âThe best way to do this is to remove any bottleneck that hinders further work on the Ajaokuta Steel complex and finish it,â he said.
But the minister in his response said the budgeting of the envelopes was not the creation of the ministry as it affects other government agencies.
âMy appeal to you, distinguished senators, on the current budgeting model is that the National Assembly seek the attention of the President.
âOperating with an envelope in terms of the annual budget does not take the beaten track. It makes you look stupid.
“We have the passion to drive the development of the country and to turn into reality the vision of Mr. President like other Nigerian patriots in one public office or another,” he said.
He added that even with the envelope budgeting and meager resources, the ministry has turned the narrative of low internally generated income into very sizable numbers now.
“In the recent past it was N2 billion annually, but has risen to N6.2 billion now with a target of N10 billion by the end of the year. “, did he declare.
However, due to the short notice given to the ministry for the budget presentation, the committee will reschedule later Monday next week the detailed defense of 2021 budget execution and the presentation of the 2022 budget forecast respectively.
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