Chairman, Senate Committee on Mines and Steel development, Senator Phillip Aduda, Tuesday expressed the committee's displeasure over the N17 billion budgetary allocations in the last three years to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development which has remained domiciled in the Ministry of Power.
Querying the non-utilisation of the allocation by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development which is being held by the Ministry of Power, Aduda said the non-utilisation of the allocation had contributed to the underdevelopment and growth of the Steel sector.
Aduba, who made the disclosure during the budget defence by the Minister of Steel and Mines Development, Mr. Muhammed Sada, said the Minister of Power would be summoned to account for the money which had been wrongly been underutilised in the last three years.
"We are worried that are importing various iron rods we are importing instead of importing we need to begin to put the steel industry right that will boost our economy and increase our Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the economy," Aduda said.
Also speaking, Senator Mohammed Goje, said the wrong done to the Mines and Steel Ministry should be corrected immediately if the country was to grow its steel sector.
Posing a question to the Minister, he said: "I don't know how far you have gone on the issue of the feasibility studies on the coal project. I remember last year that there was a proposal on the coal project, on how to generate power from coal and some states were selected how far have you gone with the programme?
"I don't any reason why the Ministry of Mines and Steel should not control the money allocated to coal development, which will be used in the power to plants. What it therefore means is that money is allocated to the wrong ministry for usage and this must not be allowed to continue. Because by next year the money will reduce to N1 billion and eventually there will be nothing for coal development. Since this committee is in charge of both ministries we must intervene to use this fund for the right development of the country."
Earlier, the Minister of Mines and Steel, Mr. Musa Mohammed, had said the ministry was having a running battle with the Power Ministry over the yearly budgetary allocation, which had hit N17 billion in the last three years.
He said: "The issue of coal is one area that we have been having running battle with the Power Ministry. For the last three years funds for coal studies have been domiciled in the Ministry of Power. We have had to make complains that the 10 billion allocated was not utilised and before the year ran out in 2010 they could not use a kobo of it.
"The issue of coal is one area that we have serious problem. "We have to write the Ministry of finance to bring this to their notice and even made a presentation to the Economic Management Team pointing out that coal is a fuel for power generation just like gas like in the Ministry of Petroleum is responsible for making gas available to the ministry of Power for power generation."
He added erroneously fund for coal studies are domiciled in the Ministry of Power.
"The first year an allocation of N10 billion was made to the Ministry, not a 10 kobo of that money was utilised, the second year N4billion was allocated they were only able to utilise N400 million to some consultancy that did not add value to the Ministry of Mines Iron and Steel and last year about N3 billion was allocated to it and at the level that we are.
"Despite the setting up of the coal to power project that we are working on the funds are still not made accessible to us and unfortunately it is a situation where the experts are following the people with the money.The problem in the Power Ministry, according to him, is so huge that coal development is given a secondary position and to us that is a major source of funding.
"Currently this year we don't have a single kobo for coal studies but the Ministry of Power keeps this money for coal studies," he said.