The Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) has defended the Ministry of Defence 2021 budget proposal before the House of Representatives Committee on Defence Chaired by Babajimi Bande at the Green chamber of the National Assembly.
General Magashi presented Three hundred and forty billion, three hundred and fifteen million, three hundred and fifty nine thousand, two hundred and fifty five naira ninety five kobo.(N340,315,359,255.95) for the Ministry of Defence 2021 fiscal year.
The Minister who was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, Hussaini Babangida said the budget is premised on the 2020-2023 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the government as well as predicated on strengthening the Services and other Military institutions. This is to enable them perform their statutory responsibility without lacking the necessary requirements.
He gave a breakdown of the budget proposal of two billion, seventy six million, four hundred and nine thousand, eight hundred and forty four naira (N2,076,409,844.00) as main Overhead cost of the Ministry for the year out of which the sum of One billion five hundred and twenty million (N1,520,000,000.00) is for the Brigade of Guards.
In addition, the sum of five hundred and fifty six million, four hundred and nine thousand eight hundred and four naira (N556,409,844.00) is budgeted for its regular Overhead expenditure to arrive at the grand total of three hundred and forty billion, three hundred and fifteen million, three hundred and fifty nine thousand two hundred and fifty five naira, ninety five kobo (N340,315,359,255.95).
According to the Minister, the Projects to be executed by the Ministry in the 2021 budget include the on-going and Special projects approved by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari which cover acquisition of Defence Equipment to be executed on government to government on win-win basis estimated at $692,968,573.00 out of which 30% was released by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
The Defence Minister, disclosed that the Ministry has the Presidential directive to execute a stalled contract put at USD269,734,420.50 for the delivery of seven hundred (700) Troops Carrying Vehicles and fifty (50) buses awarded since 2014 by the Office of the National Security Adviser. Meanwhile, the Minister had earlier summarised the 2020 budget performance as at 26th October pointing out that 88% of the Overhead was utilised while the total Expenditure for Capital utilised stands at 16%. He however blamed the low Capital utilisation on four causative factors. They include, the challenge of the general effects of Covid-19 pandemic, paucity of funds, late releases of Capital funds and bureaucratic bottleneck associated with procurement process.
The Chairman House Committee on Defence Babajimi Bande reiterated the commitment of members to doing the needful with the budget proposal without any delay. Signed Mohammad Abdulkadri, Special Assistant to the Minister of Defence on Media and Publicity