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NASS rejects Shittu’s budget presentation, fingers shoddy preparation, errors

The House of Representatives Committee on Telecommunications on Tuesday turned down debate on the Ministry of Communications 2017 Budget performance and 2018 budget projection citing shoddy documentation and presence of avoidable errors.

Accordingly, the Committee which was on an oversight visit to the Ministry decline further discussions on the presentation after some of its members discovered many irregularities in figures quoted in the scanty documents meant to explain the performance of last year’s budget as well as the 2018 budgetary projections.

Trouble began after the Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shittu made his presentation, and a member of the Committee, Hon. Anayo Edward faulted his claim that the 2018 revenue projection of N1,300,000,000 doubled the revenue projection in the preceding year which was N600,000,000.

Before now, the minister had in several occasions caught in the web of faulty figure presentation.

For example, while at an international event last year in Thailand, he quoted that about $60bn had been invested in the nation’s telecoms sector while the Executive Vice Chairman at another event in Lagos gave his own statistics as $70bn.

During the Committee hear, the minister had said that “it is projected that revenue generation from sale of forms, spectrum licenses and renewal fees and other sources in 2018 would rise to about N1,300,000,000 (One Billion Three Hundred Million Naira), twice the size of last year because of the envisaged installation of Radio Monitoring Equipment”

But Hon. Anayo said it was wrong to say the 2018 revenue projection doubled that of 2017 because the difference between the two figures is more than half. He said such assertion is misleading.

Another member, Hon Abiodun Awoleye pointed out lack of correlation in figures on pages of a document served members while he also criticized non-clarity of some of the figures quoted.

In his contributions, Hon. Kehinde Odeneye queried the ministry for not stating the status of the Rural Telephone Project for which money was appropriated in last year’s budget, adding that the minister did not specify where the projects are located and if they are working.

Two other members were not comfortable with irregularities in figures quoted on pages of another document presented.

In line with due process and to avoid waste of time, Hon Anayo asked the chairman to discontinue the presentation because it is against parliamentary procedure to work on an incorrect or uncompleted document because doing so will be efforts in futility. He urged his colleagues to reject the plea by the Committee chairman, Hon Saheed Fijabi that the Minister should be given the chance to answer questions raised by members.