Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)-- The Federal Government of Nigeria on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of 100 per cent 2012 budget implementation by September, as requested by the House of Representatives, though it claimed that 56 per cent of the budget has been implemented with about N404 billion cash released.
The total budget signed into law on 15th March was N4.69 trillion.
According to the government, budget is a process with a life cycle of a whole year and nowhere in the world where budget has ever been fully implemented.
The government has also pushed the blame of slow implementation of the budget to the constituency projects inserted into the original bill sent to the National Assembly for consideration as it required the ministries to commence fresh procurement process. It also gave a hint that the third quarter fund may be released within the next two weeks.
The House of Representatives last Thursday issued an ultimatum to President Goodluck Jonathan to fully implement the budget 100 per cent by September failure to which an impeachment process will begin on him.
But the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said it is a tall order to implement the budget 100 per cent in September.
She however noted that the President was determined to implement the 2012 budget as fully as possible and by extension will be moving towards the figure of full implementation.
Okonjo who spoke to State House Correspondents alongside Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, Director General of Bureau for Public Procurement, Engr. Emeka Eze and Director General of Budget, Dr. Bridgt Okongu at the end of Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, noted that there has been a lot of improvement in the implementation of the budget, citing the 39 per cent recorded for the month of May to 56 per cent by mid July.
According to her, “In terms of 100 per cent implementation, I think that what I read that was said by sections of the National Assembly, will have to do 100 v implementation of the budget by September.
First in my experience worldwide there is hardly any country where you would implement 100 v even by the end of the year and this is based on very broad experience.
“But people try to get at least to 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the budget, as much as can be done. 100 per cent by September, you know September is the ninth month of the year, so we will definitely be moving towards the figure.
“I think the point is that Mr President is determined to implement this budget as fully as possible and therefore we will be moving towards the figure of as full implementation as we can by the end of the year because the budget was made for the whole year.
“So you can see that there is no lack of effort, no lack of goodwill. IF we could go from 39 v in May to 56 per cent by mid July that shows a considerable leap and I'm quite confident that as we go month by month both the us and the National Assembly will be able to look at it and say yes a good effort has been made for the country.”
Stressing that the presidency had been working closely with the National Assembly on the budget, the minister said, “I really think we need to focus on the joint endeavor that we have with the national assembly which is that we are both interested in the same thing , the proper implementation of the budget for the benefit of the Nigerian people and there is absolutely no controversy about that.
“Am sure that as the figures of the utilization of budget and implementation are made known and as the National Assembly members get more of this information that the meeting of minds will become even more. We shared earlier on, we have been very open and transparent about the information we have , the shared with them the tables showing where we where in terms of end of May and am sure that as they get the information as at July 20 which is 56 per cent they will see that we are very much working to the same purpose on the same page.”
Okonjo-Iweala also noted that the review of the implementation level of the budget by the executive which has seen three ministers, Police Affairs, Interior and Agriculture appearing before the President to state key indicator performance of their ministries was to be able to keep tap on what have been achieved.
“We have had a pattern of reviewing implementation of the budget with Mr. President, who has been very insistent that we do this. We have been meeting and discussing this on a monthly basis and so we did our usual monthly discussions to see where we are,” she said.
“We have been working quite collaboratively with the National Assembly on the budget. We have met with the various committees of both the House and the Senate and we appreciate the cooperation that we have from them in trying to get this budget and also been working to implementation.
“Let me stress that the objective of Mr. President and that of the executives is very much the same as that of the National Assembly, which is to ensure that there s budget execution in order to deliver on the development programmes for this country.
“To that effect, we have really been working hard to try and get this done and I think the proof that the attention the President has been giving to these issues s bearing fruit is the fact that from the review we had last month where implementation and utilisation of resources was at 39 per cent, we are now at 56 per cent. So we have moved from 39 per cent as at the end of May to 56 per cent as at July 20.
“So I think that is a very good progress and we expect to see continuing progress in that particular area.
“As you know we have released about 404billion so far, cashed back N324 billion and the utilisation of that is 56 per cent. We will soon be considering the release of the third quarter funds, we hope to do that within the next two weeks or so.
“We do face a couple of challenges that we have also been working with the National Assembly on, effectively and quietly we have been working with them on a couple of these challenges. The first is of course many of the constituency projects and new projects put into the budget needs to be designed and to have feasibility studies because there are new and of course this takes a little bit of time to get those in time before MDAs can actually begin the process of procurement which also takes time.
“To follow the law and you follow the way that the projects are implemented that takes a little bit of time to get the design of a new project, to get the feasibility study and so on. We are very committed to getting this project done, you can't really lung into the implementation of a project before you have a feasibility study.
“Second is that there are some moves within the budget, during the time that the budget was considered by the National Assembly at the time the committed were considering, they did move some resources from one category to the other in comparison to what the executives had presented. And we have been working with them quietly and effectively to try and make sure that those resources are moved into areas where ministers can actually implement.
“We hope that the good cooperation we have had with the National Assembly will continue in rectifying some of these moves which you find in the budget because it will also enable MDAs to implement the budget a bit faster.”
Also, DG BPP Engr. Emeka Eze said that issue of new projects the 2012 budget though few, ought to have been in the planning before now.
“After the design, you can start the process of engaging the contractors, or service providers. Nigeria is a member of the United Nations and part of the global requirement is that public fund must be spent in a transparent manner. The law on which the Nigeria Procurement law is based, requires that all public expenditures must be subjected to public bidding which has procurement methods which in our own law is open competitive bidding,” he said.
He also noted that such competitive bidding make it available to all those who have the competence to offer themselves to come and do the job with a view to providing value for money.
“Making a plain ground for all bidders, MDAs are thereafter expected to put it in a public domain for a minimum period of six weeks within which that project should be in public domain before tenders are returned.”
He added that “We have no flexibility as to shorten the process. If you shorten the process, somebody can take you up on it and petition against you that you short cycled the process because you heard a prior knowledge. Of recent past, we have been augmenting projects. Most projects were awarded in the past without proper design. Government said this cannot continue to happen before you award contracts, You must make sure you finish the design.”
He however assured that all new projects would have completed the processing stage by September.
“We have only had three months. I am sure that by the end of September, all the new projects would have been completed and they are not too many anyway. There is the need to focus on the joint endeavour with the National Assembly; I am sure that as we work together. 100 percent by September is not feasible you can see that there is no lack of efforts, as we go on you will see that, yes, a good effort must have been made.”