The Senate has commenced work on President Muhammadu Buhari’s bid to remove N180.83 billion from the 2016 budget to fund the Amnesty and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programmes.
The Senate, on Wednesday in Abuja, directed its committees on Appropriation and Finance to do thorough legislative work on the presidential request and submit their reports next week.
It will be recalled that the president in October asked the National Assembly to approve a virement of N180. 83 billion from the N500billion appropriated for Special Intervention Programme, to finance other key projects.
According to the president, the Amnesty Programme is to get a total sum of N35 billion from the transfer.
The president’s request indicated that “the total recurrent expenditure required to be transferred is N166.63billion while the capital expenditure requirement to be transferred is N14.20billion’’.
A breakdown of the N180.83 billion shows that Public Service Wage Adjustment takes N71.80billion; the Amnesty Programme receives N35billion as against the mobilisation of corps members which receives N19.79billion.
Explaining the need to make more funds available to the amnesty programme, the president said:”Only N20 billion 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 president’s letter also explained why the sum of N71.8 billion had to be transferred from the intervention programme.
“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 N2billion in 2016 from N4billion 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 N12billion has a balance of less than N1.5bn, and there continue to be emerging challenges with the Internally Displaced persons (lDPs) in the zone.