By Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate on Thursday approved the sum of N346.4 billion as 2019 Budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This approval was sequel to the consideration of the report of the 2019 budget of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as presented during plenary by the Chairman Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi.
Presenting the report, Nwaoboshi noted that President Muhammadu Buhari through a communication to the Senate had presented a budget of N409.9 billion for the NDDC for the fiscal year 2019.
The breakdown according to the chairman included: Personnel Expenditure N22, 338,190, 000, Overhead Expenditure N13, 466, 810, 000, Internal Capital Expenditure N4, 083, 000, 000 and Development Projects N369, 995, 000, 000.”
Nwaoboshi said that the committee while considering the report noted that the developmental aspect of the budget was basically a roll over of the 2018 Budget which was in furtherance of the drive to ensure completion of ongoing Projects.
He said that the sum of N35 billion stated as unpaid arrears by the Federal Government was not considered as part of the commission’s revenue projection by the committee.
“This is because the amount was not approved in the 2019 Appropriations Act by the National Assembly.”
He further said that the lifespan of the budget would elapse on May 31.
Nwaoboshi further said that the the joint National Assembly Committee on NDDC unanimously had resolved to recommend that the lifespan of the budget be extended to enable the commission achieve full implementation.
“Accordingly, the 2019 NDDC Budget is recommended to elapse on May 31.”
Contributing Chairman Senate Committee on Finance Sen. Solomon Olamilekan (APC-Lagos) observed that “we are in 2020; the Federal Government has passed 2020 Appropriation Act into law, this is 2019 budget.
” If you look at the document soliciting the fund contribution of the Federal Government is about N120 billion and now we have returned government to Jan.to Dec. in terms of revenue.
“By now I believe what we should have before us is the 2020 appropriation bill of the NDDC.”
Also, Sen. Albert Akpan (PDP-Akwa-Ibom North-East) said that “The issue that was raised by Chairman Senate Committee on Finance is how do you expect NDDC to earn from Federal Government’s 2020 Budget allocation in NDDC 2019, it is a legal issue.
“Unless the chairman of the committee is going to convince the chamber that he is already processing NDDC’s 2020 Budget. Outside that, I don’t think they can earn anything from it.
“Federal Government is running the 2020 Budget and they are bringing 2019 Budget in 2020.”
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan urged the NDDC Committee to work on the 2020 Budget and report back to the Senate within two weeks to enable the upper chamber pass it on good time.
“At no time should NDDC or indeed any agency of government bring its budget later than Sept. when we receive the proposal from the President for the federal budget.”