Constituency projects: Reps grumble over non-release of N60bn funds - FAITH ADAMA'S BLOG

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Constituency projects: Reps grumble over non-release of N60bn funds




Members of the House of Representatives are unhappy over the non-release of funds by the Federal Government for the execution of many of their 2016 intervention/constituency projects, The PUNCH learnt on Sunday.

Findings showed that a good number of the lawmakers, who are currently observing their end of first session vacation, came under verbal attacks by their constituents for allegedly “failing to make any serious developmental impact in the last one year back home.”
Investigations indicated that many Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government had yet to award contracts for the constituency projects of lawmakers, while funds had not been released to fund “rolled over” or ongoing projects.
“Apart from a few MDAs that advertised for the projects and called for tenders, most of the MDAs have not given any signs that they are about to execute constituency projects.
“Their excuse basically is that there is paucity of funds and they claim that this is also tied to dwindling oil revenue available to the coffers of the Federal Government,” one senior legislative official confided in our correspondent.
Many of the 360 lawmakers, particularly the 233, who came to the National Assembly for the first time in 2015, were said to have come under pressure from voters during the vacation to give their one-year account of stewardship.
“The truth is that, for many of them, there was nothing to show physically in terms of constituency projects.
“This has caused grumbling among members,” the source added.
The 2016 budget has a vote of N60bn for the zonal intervention/constituency projects of members of the National Assembly.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives are to recommend projects to the relevant MDAs for execution.
The MDAs will in turn draw from the N60bn to execute the projects.
But, lately, the government has hinted of plans to prioritise funding of projects, owing to the paucity of funds to implement the N6.06tn budget.
Unstable crude oil prices and sustained vandalism of oil installations by the militants in the Niger Delta have been blamed as the primary cause of dipping revenue earnings.
Comments by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo-Udoma, had raised fears that the constituency projects budget might be touched.
At a recent session with lawmakers in Abuja, the SGF described constituency projects as wasteful, adding that they were “conduit” by past administrations to siphon public funds.
The SGF stated that the Buhari administration would thoroughly scrutinise such projects this time round before releasing fund for their execution.
However, lawmakers said on Thursday that they did not understand why their constituency projects would be the first target of the government’s prioritisation drive.
The lawmakers noted that they expected the constituency projects to receive attention as priority projects as well.
For instance, the Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, told The PUNCH that the constituency projects came out of thorough deliberations between the National Assembly and the executive, hence he didn’t see how the government would have any reasons to cut funds for the projects.
Ado-Doguwa, an All Progressives Congress lawmaker from Kano State, spoke more, “It is true that the government is faced with challenges to do with dwindling revenue sources. It is also possible that the government will want to sentimentalise/prioritise the execution of projects in the 2016 Appropriation Law.
“But, as far as we are concerned, our zonal intervention/constituency projects must be treated as priority projects too. Any deviation will not be acceptable by the National Assembly.
“Our projects are generally people-oriented and we will not compromise them for any reason.”

(Punch)