Ashafa Attributes Slow Procurement Process To Poor Funding, Urges President Buhari To Sign Amendment To Procurement Act
Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Gbenga Ashafa has decried the poor funding of the 2017 budget by the Federal Government.
Ashafa made this known on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, while contributing to the general principles of the 2018 Budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In his words: “We cannot discuss 2018 budget without going back to the previous few years. In 2016 the size of the budget was N6.07 Trillion. The size of the 2017 budget was 7.2 Trillion Naira. Now it is projected that the 2018 budget will be about N8.6 Trillion Naira (16% Higher than 2017 estimates).
“The 2017 budget with just about 450 Million released out of the 2.1 Trillion Capital Expenditure is currently performing below 40% level. The capital component of the 2018 Budget is set at about N2.428 Billion…. While it is okay to have a large budget or increase in the size of the budget, it is more important to ensure that the budget can be adequately funded. The challenge of the 2017 budget has remained the lack of funding of most agencies. This must be guarded against in the 2018 cycle.”
Ashafa further mentioned that though the Federal Government was short of funds for a major part of the year 2017, he would have expected that certain important Agencies of Government with capital/infrastructural projects affecting the general population of Nigerians would have been prioritized as well.
He also decried the situation where the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA). received just N800 million out of a budget of N25 Billion and The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), which he stated received just N500 million out of a Capital Appropriation of 11 Billion Naira, as not being good enough.
Ashafa also highlighted the slow procurement process by some MDA’S for capital projects contained in the 2017 Appropriation Act, a situation which he linked again to poor funding.
The Senator called on President Buhari to sign the amendments to the Procurement Act as passed by the National Assembly stating that “one of cardinal amendments of the Procurement Act is to reduce the time spent on the procurement process substantially in order to expedite the award of contracts and the speed of Governance.”
Ashafa, however concluded by commending the administration of President Buhari for being sensitive to the plight of the people by ensuring the completion and introduction of rail projects that would touch each part of the country. “what is apparent in the budget is that this Government has demonstrated that it is sensitive to the plight of the people.’
‘Most of the projects in the Ministry of Transport for example are ongoing projects which means that the administration is more focused on completing the projects it commenced, which is a smart approach. I suppose that the infusion of certain new projects is also to alley the concerns that rail projects need to reflect National Spread. Counter part funding for rail projects is set at N162 Billion to cover the following projects: (i) Lagos-Kano (Ongoing), (ii) Calabar-Lagos (to kick start in the 2018 budget), (iii) Port Harcourt to Maiduguri (new), (iv) Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic (New), (v) Abuja-Itakpe and Aladja (Warri)-Warri Port and Refinery including Warri New Harbour (new), (vi) Bonny Deep Sea Port & Port Har (New)’.