Zero capital allocation stalls budget defense by agencies under Information Ministry

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Abuja- The budget defense by parastatal agencies under the Federal Ministry of Information could not hold before the House of Representatives Committee on Information in Abuja on Tuesday.

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The Chairman of committee, Rep. Buba Jibril (Kogi-APC), explained that this was due to fact that the 2015 budget did not capture capital projects for the parastatal agencies.

“We have come to the realisation that we cannot proceed with this defense because this year’s budget did not capture some of our agencies and parastatals well”.

He said that there was need for the parastatals to be captured in the capital budget if they must perform optimally in fulfilling their mandates.

“Let us remind ourselves that these are technically oriented agencies and must consistently operate their equipment and be provided with new facilities for them to continue to operate optimally.

“So, as regards capital infusion in the budget, we don’t see how these agencies can operate for 2015.

Jubril, however, granted the request by the Supervising Minister of Information, Nurudeen Mohammed, to meet with his counterpart in the Ministry of Finance over the matter.

“We cannot continue with this process of budget defense; so we are adjourning this proceeding to Feb. 24”, he said.

The Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Ima Niboro, described the zero allocation for parastatal agencies’ capital projects as inappropriate for them to operate.

Represented by Mr Jide Adebayo, Executive Director, Lagos Operations of the agency, Niboro expressed concern that zero allocation would affect the operations of the parastatal agencies.

“There is a general opinion that zero allocation for capital projects for all the parastatals and agencies in the Ministry of Information has been considered inappropriate for their operations.

“That was why the supervising minister sought the permission of the House Committee on Information to seek audience with the minister of finance to see if there could be a reversal of that budgetary proposal.

“That gives hope that there might be a review of the present proposal of the zero capital allocation to parastatals in the information sector.’’

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Alhaji Ladan Salihu, Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), also described the situation as a setback but said that it could be addressed.

“I am not disappointed, we are challenged. It is just a setback but it is not a problem, I believe it can be discussed’’, Salihu said.

He, however, said that the parastatals needed the allocation for the execution of key infrastructure.

According to him, government has its own challenges. “We have a dwindling fortune in the oil sector and if you must be realistic that has to apply in budgetary allocation

“We are not expecting magic, we are just expecting compassion and I hope that at the end of the day, even though the resources are dwindling, the fortunes will be on upward swing.’’ (NAN)

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