Presidency seeks approval for virement in 2016 budget

Lawan Hamidu & Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the National Assembly to approve the virement of over N180 billion from the recurrent and capital balances of non-utilised funds in the 2016 Budget to take care of some sectors of the economy.

Virement is the transfer of funds from one section of a budget to another.

In a letter read on the floor of both chambers of the National Assembly, President Buhari noted that his request was due to shortfalls in the provision for personnel cost, inadequate provision for items like the amnesty program and the need to sustain the fight against insurgency and Naira depreciation.

According to the President, in the course of the 2016 Budget implementation, several Ministries, Departments and Agencies-MDAs have come up with issues pertaining to salary shortfalls.  The settlement of which has led to the depletion of the Public Service Wage Adjustment (PSWA).

He therefore urged the national assembly to permit the use of about N165 billion from the recurrent and about N14 billion from the capital to make up for the shortfalls.

Part of the letter reads, “This Vote, which had a provision of N33, 597,400,000, now has a balance of N2, 758,296,000. The Committee on Salary Shortfalls, set up by the Honourable Minister of Finance, has come up with a figure of N41,875,983,020 as the amount required to settle salary shortfalls of non-lPPlS MDAs.
Similarly, most of the lPPlS MDAs have already been notified by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation that they would soon be locked out of the IPPIS Platform as their Personnel Cost budgets would not cover salaries for the rest of the year.
“The lPPlS Department has forwarded a figure of N20, 058,204,856 as the sum required to cover the shortfall in salaries of lPPlS MDAs.
The Security-related lines in the Service Wide Vote, specifically Operations internal for the Armed Forces (N13billion) and Operation Lafiya Dole (N8billion) have all been totally released, while the Nigerian Air Force needs about (N12,708,367,476) to cover the foreign exchange differentials in the procurement of its critical capabilities.
The Contingency Vote of N12billion has a balance of only N1,827,570,443. It is considered necessary to augment this vote in the light of frequently emerging contingencies.”

Toll gates
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to re-establish toll gates on federal highways across Nigeria, the Senate on Tuesday directed its committee on Works to collaborate with relevant agencies with a view to setting up a new tolling system.

The lawmakers, who debated a motion on the need to bring back toll gates by Senator Suleiman Nazif , asked the committee to avoid the past mistakes by sensitising Nigerians appropriately.

In his lead debate, Senator Nazi described the re-establishment of toll gates as a solution to saving the nation’s dilapidated road networks.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Tuesday’s plenary urged the committee to come up with a working model that will ensure policy consistency.

The Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, who also contributed to the debate, maintained that re-introducing toll gates on Nigerian roads would facilitate current efforts by the government to diversify the economy.

Electricity regulators
In another development, the screening of the Chairman and Commissioners of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was suspended midway due to the absence of the candidate nominated for the position of Chairman/CEO of the commission.

The other six proposed commissioners to represent the geo-political zones of Nigeria attended the screening exercise accompanied by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang who requested the senate to fix a separate date for the screening of the chairmanship candidate who could not attend Tuesday’s event.

However, after a brief executive session on the matter, the senate committee on power which was conducting the exercise, resolve to suspend the screening, until the Executive sends in another communication with regards to the screening of the NERC commissioners and Chairman.