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2016 Budget: NASS denies cancelling Buhari’s N500b poverty intervention fund

From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja

THE Joint National Assembly Com­mittee on Appropriations has denied cancelling the N500 billion allocations for federal government’s intervention programmes targeted at the poor.
Recall that a national daily (not The Sun) re­ported that the National Assembly rejected the allocation meant for payment of stipends to the poor.
The committee in a statement issued in Abu­ja said that at no time did the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Abdul­mumin Jubril or his Senate counterpart, Dan­juma Goje announce that the National Assem­bly was not in approval of the allocation during their consultative meeting with the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Accountant General of the Federation, and Director General, Budget Office of the Federation on the budget.
According to the statement signed by both lawmakers, the committee raised issues on the proposed N500 billion social intervention pro­gramme as contained in the Appropriation Bill.
The committee further said, it equally ad­vised that proper structures be set up for the effective implementation of the intervention owing to the huge amount budgeted for it.
The statement read in part: “The commit­tee expressed concern over reports indicat­ing that the government has yet to put in place sufficient structure for proper take-off of a programme which is expected to bring succor to the poorest of the poor in the so­ciety.
“It was our considered view that the amount involved is so huge that adequate preparation and structure needed to be put in place for it to succeed and achieve the desired result; and also to avoid mistakes of the past where similar laudable programmes were initiated but did not succeed as a result of poor implementation.
“We therefore suggested that the take off of the programme be pastponed to next year so as to enable the government prepare ad­equately and avoid any failure”.
Goje, while insisting that he was misquot­ed stressed that it was made clear that com­ments on the fund were mere suggestions to the executive.
“The committee further suggested to the Executive that the money pro­posed in the 2016 budget be invested in some critical sectors and much needed infrastructure which will give same or even higher result-of lifting the most vulnerable citizens from poverty; while adequate preparations are made for its full take of in 2017.
“Chairman of the Senate Commit­tee on Appropriations, Senator Mo­hammed Danjuma Goje who spoke on behalf of the committee made it abundantly clear that ours was just a mere suggestion to the Executive as we are not responsible for implement­ing the programme, even though con­stitutionally we have the powers to appropriate funds for all programmes and projects but in this instance, we conceded to the Executive as part of our support to the present administra­tion,” the statement further read.

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