The Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Development, yesterday, blamed the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for approving quarterly releases which fell short of figures appropriated by the National Assembly.
The committee lamented that the action of the finance minister had resulted in less than 50 percent budget performance by the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). The Committee, and its Education counterpart, also bemoaned the poor performance of the 2012 budget.
Both committees stated this when the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development; and the Ministry of Education appeared separately before them to defend the 2013 budget proposals.
The Chairman of the Senate committee on Housing, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim expressed concern over Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s insistence on releasing funds for the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development at N22 billion as against N41 billion decided by the National Assembly.
Abba Ibrahim acknowledged that the committee had received an envelope of N22 billion from the finance ministry for Lands, Housing and Urban Development Ministry, but that the committee decided to increase it to N44 billion to enable the ministry to meet its financial demands.
Miffed by the revelation, Senator Abba Ibrahim said “if the money was not available, why did the Ministry of Finance keep lying to us that 75 per cent of the money had been released. This is difficult to understand.”
He said: “I don’t understand why your Ministry has been able to execute only 43 per cent of projects at this time, and we are in the fourth quarter now.”
Senator Aisha Alhassan, on her part, said “they released money only up to the amount budgeted in the envelopes without respect for what is appropriated which is wrong. They should be made to respect appropriation and release money accordingly.”