COVID-19: Senator Barau hints on roll over of 2020 budget

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Jibrin Barau has said the 2020 budget implementation has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, hence, the Senate might consider rolling over some items.

Reacting to inquiries by DAILY POST on budget related issues that might impede the implementation of the 2020 Appropriation, the lawmaker said the upper chamber was taking note of difficulties being encountered by Chief Executives of agencies of government with reference to capital projects component of the Appropriation.

He said annual budget, being a compulsory exercise, the Committee on Appropriation will look at the budget performance of agencies of government based on fund releases by the Federal Ministry of Finance, insisting that some capital projects that could not be executed due to natural occurrences would be rolled over.

Senator Barau who represents Kano North Senatorial district said: “The 2020 budget has just been signed few weeks ago and now, the next thing that comes up is that Ministries begins to actualize the provision of the budget.

“Where we are now is the Chief Executives of various Ministries are working round the clock to construct the procurement process.

“There is release of funds by the Federal Ministry of Finance so that the budget can easily be implemented.

“The Federal Ministry of Finance has just released funds to all Ministries across the board for implementation of budget and you know that President Muhammadu Buhari gave a matching order that 50% should be released on each item on the list so that budget can be funded.

“It’s when agencies of government get funds that they will switch into action to implement capital aspect of the budget; so this is the stage we are now.”

He expressed fears that budget performance would be low, but said, rolling over capital project in the Appropriation act into the following year is normal in legislative consideration of budgets.

He said the Senate Committee will not be able to assess budget performance of agencies of government now due to natural disruption by the pandemic.

“If not because of COVID-19, the budget would have started running since February or March, 2020, unfortunately, it’s in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire country was locked down and nothing was done particularly that revenue was not coming in.

“We cannot measure budget implementation until procurement processes are concluded and as it stands, it will take a while for us to see the extent of budget implementation.

“They may not be able to conclude the execution of budget this year, but what we will do in this circumstance is to roll over.

“If for instance a contract is awarded under capital project and because of time constraints 80% of it was not executed and the year ends, what should happen is to roll over the 80% to next year.

“Budget must come. There must be budget even though it can’t be implemented 100% percent because time is short.”

Prof Collins

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