The Senate on Friday justified its decision to cut the budget of some major projects of the federal government in the 2017 Appropriation Act.
The senate said projects like the Second Niger Bridge and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway were dropped from the budget because a counterpart funding arrangement for their construction had previously been entered with the private sector.
Besides, Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate spokesperson who signed the statement, said the lawmakers measured the country’s needs against available resources and concluded that it would be more prudent to channel public funds towards smaller projects that were necessary for the citizens but might not be commercially viable.
“What we reduced from Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the 2017 budget estimates was spread on Oyo-Ogbomoso Road in the South-West, Enugu-Onitsha Road in the South-East, and two other critical roads in the North-East and North-West,” Mr. Abdullahi, an APC member from Niger North district, said.
This was done to achieve equity,” he added.
The senator tackled the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who recently said lawmakers trimmed funding for the Second Niger Bridge and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in order to hike their own budget.
The National Assembly’s budget surged by N10 billion to N125 billion in the 2017 budget, which was signed into law earlier this month.
Top administration officials sparred with lawmakers for months as they hashed out a compromise on some major areas of disagreements in the budget line items. The deadlock was believed responsible for the delay in signing the budget, which was jacked up from N7.28 to N7.44 trillion.
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Although the deal included a provision that executive may request virements if the need arises, officials still continue to express concerns about the extent of changes introduced into the budget by the legislature.