PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday sought the approval of National Assembly for external borrowing plan of $29.960billion, for execution of key infrastructural projects across the country between 2016 and 2018, and virement of N180.8 billion in the 2016
budget for provision of needed votes for some sectors. The president made the requests in two separate letters to the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, and speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, which were read on the floor of both chambers yesterday. President Buhari explained that targeted projects cuts across all sectors with special emphasis on infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, water supply, growth and employment generation, poverty reduction through social safety net programmes and governance, financial management reforms, etc. According to him, “The total cost of the projects and programmes under the borrowing (rolling) plan is $29.960billion made up of proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274billion, special national infrastructure projects – $10.686billion, Euro bonds of $4.5 billion and federal government budget support of $3.5billion.” He explained further that the loan was very necessary in view of the serious infrastructural deficit the nation is facing. “Considering the huge infrastructure deficit currently being experienced in the country and the enormous financial resources required to fill the gap in the face of dwindling resources, and the inability of our annual budgetary provisions to bridge the deficit, it has become necessary to resort to prudent external borrowing to bridge the financing gap, which will largely be applied to key infrastructure projects namely Power, Railway and roads projects among others,” he added. Buhari in the virement request said the N180 billion would be moved from monies already appropriated for special intervention programmes, both recurrent and capital, for funding of
critical recurrent and capital items. He said the request arose due to a number of reasons, including shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs, inadequate provision for some items like the amnesty programme, continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency, and depreciation of the naira. The letter reads in part: “In the course of implementing the 2016 Appropriation Act, several MDAs have presented issues pertaining to salary shortfalls, the settlement of part of which has led to the depletion of the Public Service Wage Adjustment, PSWA. This Vote, which had a provision of N33, 597,400,000, now has a balance of N2, 758,296,000. “The Committee on Salary Shortfalls, set up by the Honourable Minister of Finance, has come up with a figure of N41, 875,983,020 as the amount required settling salary shortfalls of non-lPPlS MDAs. Similarly, most of the lPPlS MDAs have already been notified by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, OAGF, that they would soon be locked out of the IPPIS platform as their personnel cost budgets would not cover salaries for the rest of the year. “The lPPlS Department in the OAGF has forwarded a figure of N20, 058,204,856 as the sum required to cover the shortfall in salaries of lPPlS MDAs. The security-related lines in the Service Wide Vote, specifically operations internal for the armed forces (N13billion) and Operation Lafiya Dole (N8billion) have all been totally released while the Nigerian Air Force needs about (N12,708,367,476) to cover the foreign exchange differentials in the procurement of its critical capabilities. “The contingency vote of N12billion has a balance of only N1, 827,570,443. It is considered necessary to augment this vote in the light of frequently emerging contingencies. “Only N20, 000,000,000 (already fully released) was provided in the 2016 budget for the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme. Consequently, the allowances to ex-militants have only been paid up to May 2016. This is creating a lot of restiveness and compounding the security challenge in the Niger Delta. “The provision for NYSC in the 2016 budget is inadequate to cater for the number of corpers to be mobilized this year. In fact, an additional N8.5billion is required to cover the backlog of 129, 469 corps members who are currently due for call-up but would otherwise be left out till next year due to funding constraints. Similarly, the provision for meal subsidy for the unity colleges is inadequate for the number of students in the schools. “Also, there was no provision for feeding of cadets at the Police Academy, Wudil, Kano. These situations are hampering the operations of the affected agencies. The provision for statutory transfer to the Public Complaints Commission, PCC, was reduced to N2 billionin 2016 from N4 billion in 2015. Consequently, the agency is experiencing difficulty in paying salaries of its personnel as and when due. “Due to the devaluation of the naira, the budgetary provisions for the foreign missions are no longer sufficient to cover all their costs. “The provision for Presidential Initiative for the North East (N12 billion) has a balance of less than N1.5billion, and there continue to be emerging challenges with the Internally Displaced Persons, lDPs, in the zone.” The breakdown of the virement proposal shows that N71.8 billion is for public service wage adjustment, N35billion for amnesty programme, N19.8billion for mobilisation of remaining batches of youth corps members for the year.


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    PRESIDENT BUHARI, IN VIEW OF THE CONTINUED HUE AND CRY ON THE NON-PAYMENT OF LONGSTANDING PENSION ARREARS OF ALL FEDERAL PENSIONERS, EVEN IF NO PROVISION FOR SUCH PAYMENTS WAS MADE IN THE 2016 BUDGET, PLEASE REQUEST FOR APPROVAL A SEPARATE EXCLUSIVE LOAN BY NASS TO CLEAR ALL OUTSTANDING PENSION ARREARS AND HARMONIZED PENSION ARREARS OF PENSIONERS AS YOU PROMISED IN YOUR PRE-ELECTION PROMISES IN MARCH 2015.

    PRESIDENT BUHARI, TREAT OLD AGE CITIZENS AND PENSIONERS WITH RESPECT AS YOU RIGHTLY STATED IN THAT PRE-ELECTION PROMISE.