The federal government on Monday announced readiness to release N350 billion, being the first tranche for implementation of the 2017 budget.
Giving the analysis at the public presentation of 2017 Appropriation Act in Abuja, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun said the Federal Government had enough cash available to immediately commence the execution of key projects and initiatives scheduled for the 2017 fiscal year.
According to her, “We are ready, we are having a cash-plan meeting very soon and after that, N350 billion will be released as first tranche of capital releases for the 2017 budget,’’ she said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma said funding of projects would now be on Project-Based Release System to curb waste of public funds by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
He explained further that part of the requirement for capital releases was evidence of compliance with the Bureau of Public Procurement Act as henceforth, no MDA was authorised to enter into a foreign denominated contract without the approval of the Ministers of Budget and National Planning, and Finance.
Udoma also said the Federal Government would strengthen its monitoring and evaluation framework to improve physical inspection and impact assessment of projects and programmes implemented by MDAs.
In his further submission, he averred that “We are worried and concerned about the number of abandoned capital projects scattered in their thousands throughout the country, which we inherited from previous administrations”.
“We know that you can’t continue doing things the same way and expect different result, so we have to do things differently. We need to have more targeted releases. We have to look at the projects which are important and can easily be completed.
“The ministers are working together to ensure that over time, we concentrate our resources on completing important projects, so that we have maximum impact,’’ he said.
The Ministry was working with the National Assembly to get the country’s fiscal year adjusted to between January and December, stressing that this could only be achieved when the executive and legislature work together to ensure that the budget was submitted, passed and signed before December 31, 2017.
Giving additional analysis, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze said the Office had introduced a new system known as Citizen Portal.
He said the portal which can be found on the budget office website, provides the masses insights into the 2017 budget in a non-technical way.
“It is important for citizens to understand the budget, especially its key deliverables and their role in its implementation.
“When citizens do not fully understand the budget, it significantly limits their ability to engage with the budget process and hold government accountable for the prudent management of financial resources entrusted to it.
Business Hilights notes that if the fund is quickly released as assured by the government, this year will mark the first in the history of national budget where capital expenditure is released in less than two weeks of presidential assent.