Ondo State Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko has signed the 2014 Appropriation Bill of the State into law.
The signing ceremony which took place at the Cocoa Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office, Akure was attended by members of the state executive council, members of the State House of Assembly, Chairmen of State Government parastatals, top government officials and party leaders
Dr Mimiko, in his address, stated that the budget was a reference point in global practices.
He disclosed that the 2014 budget signed into law which totalled N168 billion, is broken down into N71 billion recurrent, and N96 billion capital expenditure, and is geared towards the sustenance of all the laudable programmes of his administration.
He further said the budget is meant to substantially expand the economic base of the State through continuous involvement in infrastructural development such as road network, industrial power plant and agriculture.
Speaking earlier, the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Akin Adaramola commended the members of the Finance and Appropriation Committee, who denied themselves of personal conveniences by going through the budget proposal in record time.
He added that the budget is a departure from the old practice as it was prepared in compliance with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
Governor Mimiko had on 31st of December, 2013 presented the 2014 budget before the State House of Assembly. It was thereafter passed by the Assembly about a fortnight ago.
A soft copy of the budget will be placed online for interested members of the public to access it.
The 2014 Appropriation Bill has passed through the Second Reading in the House of Representatives after three days of debate.
However on the final day of the debate, the contribution of the lawmakers became clearly divided along party lines.
While members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were determined in their defence of the budget, lawmakers of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) picked holes in the bill.
The debate became more intense when the minority leader, Femi Gbajabiamila made his contribution.
According to him, “when you say a 23.7 percent capital budget will create jobs and provide inclusive growth, it is voodoo economics; when you allocate N700 billion (15 percent of your annual budget to debt service. How would N700 billion for debt and N1.1 trillion for capital projects claim to be a job-creating and inclusive growth budget?”
He said: “It is a lie when you bring a budget that has fiscal deficit of N912 billion (82 percent of N1.1 trillion capital expenditure and you call it a budget of job creation and inclusive growth! Almost every kobo for capital will be borrowed i.e. more debt.
Gbajabiamila maintained that it is strange that under the Ministry of Finance allocation, N924 billion Service Wide Vote, of which N21 billion is for election logistics outside the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) itself.
The bill has been referred to the Committees on Appropriation and Finance.
These committees are expected to work with other committees of the House to address the concerns that have been identified.
Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rep. Leo Ogor today hinted that there are moves by the opposition to stifle the passage of the 2014 Budget.
“I think there is that attempt recently and you realise that it affected the position of the budget for about three or four days” adding that “a position was also taken” because “we run the house in line with precedents and nobody has actually asked for these documents” he said while speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Face Off in Abuja.
However in a swift reaction, the Minority Leader in the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila refuted the claim, alleging that “left to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) the budget should be passed in one or two days”.
He argued “a month should not be too much” to debate on “a budget for 170 million people” insisting that “that is what we are doing now”.
Rep. Gbajabiamila challenged Rep. Ogor to explain how the budget intends to affect the life of the ordinary Nigerian. Responding, Rep. Ogor began by quoting Section 81 of the constitution, admitting that the document sent by the president has some flaws, he however noted that it is their duty as lawmakers to give Nigerians the budget that will benefit the general populace of the country.
The Federal Government has appealed to members of the National Assembly to expedite action on the 2014 Appropriation Bill currently before them to ensure that the administration delivers dividends of democracy to the people.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu,who represented President Goodluck Jonathan made the appeal during a forum of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He reiterated President Jonathan’s determination to continue to impact positively on the infrastructural needs of the country and that the SURE-P had since its inception in 2012 become a critical unit of his administration’s transformation agenda.
He said over 190,000 youths have so far been employed under various categories of SURE-P alongside massive intervention in railway, road construction and health among others.
The acting chairman of SURE-P, Gen. Martin-Luther Agwai (Rtd), agreed that there were obvious challenges in the implementation of its programmes.
Agwai explained that the forum was therefore meant to review past operations to assist the programme to fulfil its mandate.