Nigeria: Jonathan seeks N161bn to prevent fuel scarcity

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 25, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ TIMOTHY A.

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has requested for the approval of a N161.6 billion supplementary budget from the National Assembly to offset accumulated fuel subsidy arrears owed to oil marketers.

In separate letters to the leaderships of the Senate and House of Representatives read in both chambers on Tuesday, the President said the request became imperative because the provision for the fuel subsidy in the 2012 budget was underestimated.

His request came amidst the claims and counter claims by the government and oil marketers over the fuel scarcity that has impacted negatively on commercial activities in parts of the country, including Abuja.

While the government agencies had assured that normalcy would be restored before the festive period as the government had ordered a partial release of fuel from the strategic national reserves, the marketers blamed the scarcity on the unsettled subsidy arrears to their members.

The buckpassing has pushed petrol price from the official pump price of N97 per litre to between N110 and N130 in different parts of the country.

In his letter dated December 5, 2012, addressed to the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, which was read on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Jonathan based his N161.6 billion request on the need “to maintain a steady flow of petroleum products, especially in the run-up to the festive season.

The president’s request letter was read on the floor of the House by the Speaker, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal with a claim that the supplementary budget was needed “to settle accumulated fuel subsidy arrears owed oil marketers.”

If approved, the  total amount expended on subsidy in the 2012 fiscal year would be  N1.049 trillion.

The letter read,  “The Distinguished Senate President will recall that as part of the 2012 Budget framework, a provision of N888.1 billion was made for payment of fuel subsidy for the nation. I wish to intimate the Distinguished Senate of the fact that following the forensic audit carried out, the provision for fuel subsidy in the 2012 budget was underestimated As now, the sum of N880,264,243,683:61bn has been paid out leaving a balance of N7, 735, 756, 316: 39bn.

“In order to accommodate the outstanding arrears resulting from the forensic audit exercise and the remaining period of the 2012 an additional sum of N161, 617, 364, 911bn over and above what was programmed in the 2012 framework is required.

“Given the need to maintain a steady flow of petroleum products, especially in the run up to the festive season, it is my hope that the distinguished senators will kindly accord this request their traditional expeditious consideration and approval.

“Accordingly, I hereby forward copies of the supplemental request for the additional payment of 2012”, he wrote.

In another development, President Jonathan has requested the Senate to confirm the appointment of five people as members of the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC).

This was contained in a letter written by the president and addressed to the Senate President, Senator Mark, which was read at the Senate plenary on Tuesday.

The five members are Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Etolue (Anambra/Ebonyi and Enugu); Hon Hope Ikiriko (Bayelsa/Rivers/Delta); Professor Aminu Sheidu (Kogi/Kwara); Mr Emmanuel Ihedioha (Imo/Abia) and Mr Joseph Akande (Osun/ Oyo).

The president noted that the request was in line with the provision of Part 1, Paragraph 10 of the Third Schedule to the constitution and in line with the provisions of Section 154 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“You may wish to note that the tenure of some members of the commission has expired.

“It is in this regard that I present, for the Senate’s consideration and confirmation, the  appointment of the following as members of the Federal Civil Service Commission for a tenure of five years…,” he said.

Meanwhile, less than few weeks to the end of the year, the House,  on Tuesday, gave its Committee on Finance a one-week ultimatum to file its report on the level of implementation of the 2012 budget which had  pitched the lawmakers against the executive arm of government.

The resolution was sequel to a motion moved by Honourable Abdulrahman Terab entitled, “need to ensure conclusive implementation of the 2012 Appropriation Act.”

The House directed the committee “to compile and present a comprehensive report on the revenues, expenditures, and any unforeseen savings in the 2012 budget implementation, and carve out a solution on the outstanding capital releases in the 2012 appropriation act with a view to ensuring its full implementation, and submit to the House within one week.”

Leading debates on the motion, the lawmaker noted that, “the annual budget provides for the planning and equitable allocation of resources for the purposes of development. It is the implementation of such plan as proposed, that ensures the actual achievements captured in the budget for that fiscal season. The government budget is very significant in meeting the social and economic needs of the people through the provision of public goods and services.”

According to him, “when the national budget is well formulated and effectively implemented, it will lead to the achievement of development objectives such as strong economic growth, equitable distribution of income and wealth creation, poverty reduction, reduced unemployment rate, and maintain internal and external balance for economic stability.

“Nigeria has an infrastructural deficit of over N4 trillion  and a very high unemployment rate of over 70 per cent. Nigeria’s budget-based growth indices have, in the recent past, laid more emphasis on foreign influenced economic models based on  the gross national product, rather than human development index and Infrastructural growth index, which impact more on the internal factors that reduce poverty, create jobs and encourage industrial growth.

“The revenue receipts so far for 2012 confirmed to be higher than what was projected for the 2012 fiscal regime. Consequently, the fourth quarter capital releases made to MDAs just this December, despite being inadequate on the percentage of budget implementation, were found to be inconsistent, hence only about 30 per cent of the allocated value were actually remitted to the MDAs. That at this moment in December, we cannot fully claim capital releases to average 60 per cent across the board to MDAs.”

He equally maintained that “if this House does not come to the rescue of the 2012 budget, the dream of Nigeria becoming one of the 20 great economies by the year 2020 can no longer be achievable. Because consistent missing of target plans only translates to failure to achieve the desired result.” Nigerian Tribune

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