Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly budget defense turns soar, Ministry, Commissions, Agencies shun exercise
Commissioners, MDAs, Ors shun budget defense
*We will approve zero allocation to them – AKHA
BY EMMANUEL AKPAN
The passage of the 2018 budget into law may suffer a delay following the refusal of some Commissioners, Managing Director of Government Agencies as well as other Heads of Government establishments to appear before the House of Assembly Committee on Appropriation and Finance to defend their budget proposals.
Our correspondent who monitored the budget defense since its started last Wednesday, observed that most of the Ministries and other Government establishments failed to appear on their scheduled dates without any excuse.
It was also noticed that some Heads of Government agencies who were sighted at the House of Assembly complex, reluctantly strolled to the office of the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Hon Usoro Akpanusoh and left without appearing before the Committee.
It could be recalled that the Appropriation and Finance Committee through its clerk had released a press statement inviting Ministries, Departments and Agencies to appear which had commenced on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at the Assembly complex, but the compliance from Ministries seems not to be expressive.
The release reads in part, “The 2018 budget defense by Ministries and Extra – Ministerial Department and MDAs commence on Wednesday, 20th at the Assembly complex.
“All the Chief Executives of the MDAs to appear before the committee are all expected to come with 15 copies of their 2018 budget proposal, documents on sources of revenue, actual amount generated in 2017 and expected revenue in 2018.
“The MDAs are also to attend the event with their capital implementation report from January to December, 2017 in a tabular form indicating releases made to the MDAs in 2017 as well as list of at least 5 projects undertaken by the MDAs for committee’s inspection and appraisal”.
But those who came to witness the process regretted ever coming. They described the development as a major setback in the process of passing the 2018 budget proposal presented by Governor Udom Emmanuel to House. Out of fifteen government agencies that were expected to appear between Wednesday to Friday, it was only very few that complied, while the rest stayed back without any reasonable excuse.
While making in speech at the end of the exercise on Friday, The Committee Chairman on Appropriations and Finance, Hon Usoro Akpanusoh gave a strong warning and said that the House of Assembly will sanction erring Ministries and Agencies of Government that failed to appear before it to defend their 2018 proposal.
According to him, “For those Ministries and Agencies that have not show up, I tell you from both thinking of our members and the leadership of the Assembly, this will be the first time some of them will will be experiencing zero allocation under their proposed estimate. And there is no way we can allocate even one kobo for those Ministries that do not come before us.”
The Chairman who frowned that the Committee had fixed 10am to start the daily routine, but some of the Ministries that are supposed to have appear, refused to do so. He stressed that any MDAs that refused to defend their budgets will have zero allocation for 2018 fiscal year.
Continuing, Akpanusoh said, “This is not ethical and not practicable at all for you not to come and defend your budget. Off course, we have promised Akwa Ibom people and government of the State that we are going to give them accelerated hearing.
Thank God, we have come up with our schedule, sent notice to MDAs to come and defend their budget. Those ones that are serious, they are showing up and for those ones that are not serious. Then we will treat them according to how unserious they are.”
Meanwhile,The Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Monday Uko had led heads of his ministry to defend the Ministry’s 2018 Budget before the Committee. Sir Monday Uko, while briefing members of the Committee on the performance of capital budget in 2017, said 3.8billion was allocated for implementation of ongoing project but only 1.192 was released.
For the year 2018, the Commissioner said the Ministry had proposed 46.260 billion which the main target will be for construction of Eket Stadium.
Defending their Ministry’s 2018 Budget, State Secondary Education Board headed by Mr. Umanah Sam Umanah, told the Committee members that the sum of 137 million was appropriated for the Board in 2017 but unfortunately, nothing was accessed and in the year 2018, the sum of 200 million had been budgeted for the board.
Akwa Ibom State Life Enhancements Agency, Headed by Mrs. Maria Ekanem. Also defended their 2018 Budget before the House committee members.
Maria told the Lawmakers that 220million was appropriated for 2017 fiscal year but they were not able to access any kobo. but in 2018, they proposed 27.58 million naira.
Among Ministries and Agencies yet to appear before the Committee on their scheduled dates are: Culture and Tourism, Akwa Ibom Hotels and Tourism Board, Transport and Petroleum Resources, Executive Council Secretariat, State Universal Basic Education Broad.
Others are: Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Akwa Ibom State Road Maintenance and other Infrastructure Agency, Uyo Capital City Development Authority, among others. The defense will continue tomorrow, Wednesday.