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Govt plans lean capital vote in 2013 budget, $70 benchmark

Published by Guardian on Wed, 11 Jul 2012

COST-SAVING measures being adopted by the Federal Government may lead to the exclusion of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from allocations to capital projects in the 2013 budget.The government said it is taking the measure because the era of spreading its resources without meaningful impact is over.The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who dropped the hint yesterday in Abuja, said the government had introduced zero capital budgeting into next year's national economic blueprint.The Budget Office said yesterday that the new philosophy would be presented to the National Assembly by September this year to ensure early passage and implementation of the budget from January 1, 2013.The parameters being proposed for the 2013 budget are $70 per barrel of crude; 2.55 million bpd of crude production; exchange rate of N155 to $1; and a fiscal deficit of N952.90 billion representing 2.04 per cent from the current 2.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).The idea, which Okonjo-Iweala described, as 'trade-offs' is to enable the government deploy financial resources to 'a few priority sectors and completion of ongoing projects.'Most of the agencies to be affected in the zero capital budget regime are among those to be rationalised as recommended by the Stephen Oransaye's Committee, which is receiving government's attention.The finance minister said workers of the affected MDAs, which functions overlap, are to be merged as part of the government's fiscal consolidation plan.Okonjo-Iweala spoke at a consultative meeting with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) and Civil Society Organisations on the 2013 budget in line with the requirement of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 aimed at getting the inputs of the stakeholders into the document.She said: 'In this budget ( 2013), we want to direct our resources where we can make impact. We are going to embark on trade-off which is an internationally recognised strategy but which is not practiced here. Now, accountability,transparency and probity will be our watchword because we have been spreading our resources without reasonable impact.'The Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu, said the 2013 spending plan would be devoted to completing the abandoned 6,294 projects in Education, 1,374 representing 22 per cent; Health, 968 (15 (per cent); Water, 659 (11 per cent); Works, 400 (six per cent); Power, 532 representing eight per cent; and others, 2,361 (38 per cent).He said government could not complete the projects due to shortfalls in releases despite high oil revenue and inadequate capacity in MDAs to implement budgets.
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