20 February 2014

Nigerian Government Disburses N200 Billion for 2014 Capital Expenditure Despite Non-Passage of Budget

The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday announced the disbursement of N200 billion as capital expenditure for the first quarter of 2014. The money is for the execution of various projects captured in the 2014 Appropriation Act.

The spokesperson for the minister, Paul Nwabuikwu, said the release of the other 'approved' appropriations in the budget would follow accordingly.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the coordinating minister of the economy, said the release of the first tranche of the capital vote signposts the determination of the Federal Government to ensure that clear and measurable progress was achieved in the execution of capital projects.

The National Assembly is yet to pass the 2014 Appropriation Bill into law, as contending issues underlining the preparation of the fiscal appropriation are yet to be resolved.

The release of funds provided for in the budget before they receive the approval of the National Assembly appears to be the practice of the government in the last three years.

The consensus between the Legislature and the Executive has been that budgetary allocations could be made by the Executive for any quarter of each year when deliberations on that year's budget is still on at the National Assembly; provided that such releases were not higher than the preceding year's corresponding quarter's disbursements.

The criticism that has continued to trail the implementation of the federal budgets and pitched the Legislature against the Executive has been the poor performance of the yearly budgets.

The projection has been that if the deliberations on the 2014 Appropriation Bill by the National Assembly are concluded early and the Bill enacted into law, capital budget performance in the budget year, barring unforeseen circumstances, may be better than that of the 2013 budget.

The Federal Government had on March 14 last year released N400 billion for first quarter 2013 capital projects implementation as part of its efforts to ensure that ongoing projects and other contracts that may be awarded in the first quarter are sustained.

Civil society groups that monitor the implementation of the annual budget have often faulted the practice, pointing out that it always makes adequate tracking of the performance of the budget difficult.

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