by George Oji

The Senate yesterday set machinery in motion to fast-track passage of the N174,068,999,970 billion 2015 budget appropriation of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, before the National Assembly winds up in about 10 days.

To this effect, the appropriation bill, which was read for the first time in the Senate yesterday, passed the second reading and was accordingly committed to the committee on FCT for public hearing.

The committee was subsequently asked to turn in its report on Tuesday next week, when the appropriation bill is expected to be passed by the lawmakers.

Leading the debate, Senate Leader Victor Ndoma- Egba noted that the FCT statutory budget proposals of the sum of N174,068,999,970 is N96,973,545,942 less than the sum of N271,042,545,912 for 2014 appropriation, representing 35% decrease.

He explained that the decrease in the budget was predicated on the volatility of the oil price, which had reduced revenue accruing to the FCTA from statutory allocation as its main source, as well as the fall in the exchange rate of naira to dollars.

The leader maintained that the thrust of the FCT 2015 statutory budget is to ensure an effective and enduring service-oriented administration that can consolidate on the gains of the programmes of the administration over the years.

Giving a breakdown of the budget, Ndoma- Egba said, “The sum of N174,068,999,970 only is proposed as the expenditure for 2015. Of this sum, N46,034,684,503 is for personnel cost, N28,589,912,096 is for Overhead costs, while N99,444,403,371 is for capital expenditure.”

According to him, “Out of the 2015 total proposal, the sum of N27,850,000,000 is dedicated to projects on rail and other counterpart fund-related projects. Other important projects like the ongoing road construction and water treatment plant.

“Some new projects were considered in the 2015 budget proposal with a provision of the sum of N50 billion to the federal capital development authority, the sum of N10 billion to the satellite towns development department while the sum of N11,594,403,371 was proposed for other secretariats, departmemts and agencies as capital expenditure.”

The Leader disclosed that the budget is being deployed for the listed “expansion and rehabilitation of outer northern expressway (ONEX) and airport expressway; the sum of N7,650,000,000 is earmarked for the completion of the above two major roads before the end of 2015. The expansion and rehabilitation of these roads when completed will remove the traffic congestion experienced by commuters and will drastically reduce travel time.”

The rest are for the “provision of infrastructure facilities to districts and road construction, the sum of N12 billion is proposed for the provision of infrastructural facilities to Jahi, Wuye, Maitama extension, Abuja north west and Katampe districts while the sum of N9,450,000,000 is earmarked for the completion and construction of some vital roads in the city. The sum of N2,000,000,000 is proposed for the lower Usman Dam, Gurara road.”

According to him, “The sum of N3,100,000,000 is proposed for the provision of public buildings which include construction of Banquet Hall within the presidential villa, rehabilitation of ECOWAS parliament building and rehabilitation of United Nations Building.”

He said, “The sum of N2,385,000,000 is being proposed for construction of resettlement houses and payment of compensation in the 2015 fiscal year.”

Ndoma-Egba further explained that considering the dwindling funding from the statutory revenue allocation, “emphasis has been placed on the completion of ongoing projects particularly those with high impact on the provision of services and infrastructure to residents of FCT.”

He said, not withstanding, a few new projects that are considered absolutely necessary have been included in the budget proposal.

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