Lagos-Calabar Rail Project: Ministry Of Budget Clarifies 2016 Budget

2016 BudgetThe Ministry of Budget And Planning has come out with its position on the controversies surrounding the 2016 budget.

The ministry in a statement said the President is yet to take a position on the budget after receiving the budget details from the National Assembly on April 7.

On the controversial Calabar-Lagos rail project, the ministry confirmed that there were indeed some errors in the initial budget proposal sent to the National Assembly by the President in December.

The statement, however, added that the errors were corrected, submitted and subsequently accepted by the relevant committees of the National Assembly.

The statement read in part, “It must be emphasized that the two rail projects are part of those for which the President is currently negotiating funding with the Chinese government.

“The 60billion Naira provided in the budget for the Lagos – Kano and Calabar – Lagos rail lines, respectively, is counterpart funding, to support the Chinese financing for the projects.

“These projects are part of the strategic implementation plan of the government which was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning at The National Economic Council retreat in March 2016, in the presence of state governors.”

The statement added that it was the corrected version that was defended by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and his team.

Mischief

It has been a tug of war between the executive and the legislature over the 2016 budget, as the National Assembly insists that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was excluded from the budget.

At a news conference in Abuja, spokesman of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, insisted that there was no project as to Lagos-Calabar rail in the 2016 appropriation bill presented by President Buhari to the National Assembly.

He criticised the late presentation of the project by Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi.

Also, in a strongly worded press statement, the spokesperson of the Senate, accused the Presidency of setting Nigerians against the National Assembly.

He accused the Minister of Transport of mischief and demanded an apology from him if he is not able to show evidence that the Lagos-Calabar rail project was included in the budget, otherwise he should resign forthwith.

In another development, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, confirmed that although the Lagos-Calabar rail project was not in the original document presented to the National Assembly by the executive, the Minister of Transport later informed the Transport Committee of the omission and sent a complimentary copy of the Ministry’s budget to the committee with the inclusion of the Lagos-Calabar rail project.

2016 Budget: Executive, NASS Row Over Calabar-Lagos Rail Project

Railway-NigeriaThe back and forth arguments between Nigeria’s Executive Arm of Government and the National Assembly over the 2016 budget appear to be intensifying, as the lawmakers insist that the Calabar-Lagos rail project was not included in the 2016 budget.

Nigeria’s 2016 budget is one of the most controversial bill in recent time, with issues of its late submission to reports of it being missing then found, then reports of appropriation being padded.

After several months of debate and scrutiny, the budget was passed by the National Assembly but the Executive Arm of Government seem not satisfied with the final product from the lawmakers.

There have been reports quoting the executive as saying that the budget was distorted, with the removal of certain items and addition of some others that were not initially in the budget.

One of such projects that the executive claims were removed is a rail project that will connect the south-south region and the south-west – Calabar-Lagos rail project.

Countering the widespread reports that the National Assembly removed the project from the 2016 budget, the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, told a news conference in Abuja on Monday that a late presentation of the project by the Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, was out of place.

He pointed out that the President was the only one constitutionally empowered to make budgetary proposals to the parliament.

Also, the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, in a strongly worded press statement accused the presidency of setting Nigerians against the National Assembly.

He accused the Minister of Transport of mischief and demanded an apology from the Minister if he was not able to show evidence that the Calabar-Lagos rail project was included in the budget. He also requested that he should reign if he could not present the evidence.

In another development, however, the Chairman Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Asahafa, in a statement confirmed that although the Lagos-Calabar rail line project was not in the original document presented to the National Assembly by the executive, the Minister of Transport had later informed the Transport Committee of the omission and sent a supplementary copy of the ministry’s budget to the committee with the inclusion of the Calabar-Lagos rail project.

But the National Assembly apparently did not treat the proposal.

The National Assembly will resume plenary on Tuesday, April 12, and all eyes would be on the parliament to see what its next steps would be on the budget controversy.

Issa Aremu Says ‘Budget Insufficiency’ Is Affecting Nigeria’s Economy

Issa Aremu on budgetThe former Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has linked Nigeria’s plunging economy to the ‘insufficiency of the budget’.

He decried the plans of the Federal Government to have a budget of eight trillion Naira and later came to the floor of the House to announce a budget of 6.3 trillion Naira.

“I think there were lots of excitements that the country would have an expanded budget – a budget that would be big enough to drive recovery.

“The Vice President (Yemi Osinbajo) also said that the budget would be between the range of eight trillion Naira, but when it was formerly announced by the President (Muhammadu Buhari) to the National Assembly, it was about 6.3 trillion Naira which is an improvement from where we are coming from.

“But honestly speaking, I would commend the National Assembly for the excitement to debate the budget”, Mr Issa Aremu said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

The former Vice President of the NLC said: “If you ask me what they are debating – 6.3 trillion Naira is extremely very token for the recovery of 197 million people”.

Giving suggestions on how the government could  make the budget bigger, Mr Aremu was of the opinion that the debate should be taken outside the box of sharing something which was far from being enough and thinking of how to grow the base.

“I find the budget is quite exciting, the President spoke of job creation, growing the economy among others, but honestly, I haven’t seen practical policies that will drive this.

“I think President Buahri should call a stakeholders’ meeting for the manufacturers,” he said.

He stressed that the government could help key sectors that would drive the recovery of the economy and support the budget with a practical force.

“I look forward to seeing the practical effects to be reflected in the budget.

“The government needs to focus on key ministries that must drive recovery – Ministry of Trade, Investment and Industry, and Ministry of Labour,” he stressed.