By Bankole Wright
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has expressed concern over the insertion of projects outside the purview of his ministry in the 2017 Appropriation Act by the National Assembly, Punch reports.
“What I have in my budget now is primary healthcare centres, boreholes,’’ he said at an interactive session with editors on Thursday.
“We were asked to complete those abandoned projects; the budget of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway was reduced by the National Assembly from N31bn to N10bn.
“We are owing the contractors about N15bn and they have written to us that they are going to shut down.
“Also, the budget of the 2nd Niger bridge was reduced from N15bn to N10bn and about N3bn or so was removed from the Okene-Lokoja-Abuja road budget.’’
“Everybody is complaining about power supply but they also cut the budget for Manbila power project and the Bodo bridge that connects the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Station was also cut and all these were also discussed.
“If after we have defended the budget and we had gone and the legislature unilaterally changed the budget, what is the purpose of deliberation?’’
According to Fashola, it is unfair to Nigerians after public hearings were conducted with tax payers’ money and consultations with the lawmakers only for the budget to be altered, cut or padded.
The minister said that apart from the 200 uncompleted roads he inherited from the previous administration, the lawmakers added100 roads.
“These roads are not federal roads and some of them do not have designs, how do we award roads that were not designed irrespective of the power you have?
“It is unconstitutional for the National Assembly to legislate on state roads.
“A budget is an estimation plan that set in motion what is to be spent, how much will be borrowed and how much will be collected.
“The executive controls all the machinery for collecting taxes and other revenue with relevant data from the Ministries of Finance, Physical Planning and the Budget Office and others.
“I am not saying that the legislature cannot contribute to the budget, but I hold the view that it cannot increase the budget because they do not collect the revenue with which to run or implement the budget,’’ he said.