2017 Budget: Senators Seeks N1.7bn Each For Constituency Projects
The Nigerian senate has moved to secure a permanent source of funding for constituency projects with a move to create a Constituency Development Fund to be domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and financed through deductions from annual national revenues.
To see through this, a billed tagged “Constituency Development Fund Bill 2016” and sponsored by Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume has been introduced to the Upper Chamber.
If passed into law, the bill will ensure that 2.5 per cent of the country’s annual budget as well as other monetary accruals will be remitted into the fund.
If the bill becomes operational in the 2017 fiscal year, the sum of N182.5 billion will go for constituency projects being 2.5 per cent of the N7.3 trillion budget proposed for 2017 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Each senator to the exclusion of the members of the House of Representatives would be expected to go home with N1.7 billion for constituency projects.
The bill is a revised version of an earlier plan to force the Federal Government to forfeit 20 percent of its annual budget for constituency projects.
Barely a week before it received the N7.3 trillion 2017 budget proposal from President Muhammadu Buhari on December 14, 2016, the Senate endorsed for further legislative work, a bill to reserve 20 per cent of annual budgets for National Assembly Constituency Projects.
Sponsored by Odua (PDP, Anambra North), the bill after, passing the second reading, was referred to the Senate committees on appropriation and finance, and is expected to be passed into law early in 2017.
The key provision in the bill which many described as “self-serving and over-ambitious”, is one which states that at least 20 per cent of annual budgets must be dedicated to constituency projects.
The groundswell of opposition to the bill from across the country made some senators to suggest alternative means of sourcing funds for the projects.
It was learnt that the leadership of the National Assembly packaged the bill as a better and more acceptable arrangement to replace the earlier legislative plan to force the Federal Government to lose at least 20 per cent of its national budgets to the constituency projects.
The fund to be managed by the Department of Rural Development in the Ministry of Agriculture will also include the revenue ” accruing to or received by the department from any other source; or any money disbursed by the Federal Government to the department for even development and provision of rural infrastructure in the manner provided by this Act.”
According to the bill, “l.5 % and 1 % of the total revenue accruing to the Department under this Act shall be allocated for developmental projects at all federal constituencies and senatorial districts in the federation respectively.”
The bill empowers the department to perform other key functions particularly with regard to the Constituency Development Fund which include ensuring timely and efficient management of the fund; receiving and discussing list of proposed projects from the constituencies; ensuring the execution of approved projects to completion; and ensuring the compilation of proper records, returns and reports for the constituencies.
Other functions which the department is expected to perform are receiving and addressing complaints and disputes or where necessary refer such complaints to the appropriate government body or the National Assembly for investigation and resolution; considering project proposals submitted from various constituencies in accordance with the Act, approve for funding those projects that are consistent with the Act and disburse funds for the execution of the said projects;”
Section six of the new legislation specifically mandates the president to allocate funds for the (CDF).