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2018 Budget: Senator Abaribe raises alarm over N30bn smuggled into power budget

The senator said the sum was inserted without passing through the proper channels. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South, PDP), has raised alarm over what he claims to be the fraudulent insertion of N30 billion budgeted for power in the recently-signed 2018 appropriation bill.With a padding controversy trailing the new act, Abaribe said the questionable sum was inserted into the budget even though it never passed through his power committee.He said, “The amount never passed through the senate power committee. Where did such huge sum of N30 billion come from? Let the budget office and other relevant bodies conduct self examination. Such self examination will go a long way to clear gray areas.”He disclosed that the N30 billion in question was marked for expansion and re-enforcement of infrastructure in the distribution companies to reduce stranded firms. The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing received the lion’s share of the 2018 budget with N715 billion (capital and recurrent).Senator Abaribe also expressed shock and displeasure with the slashing of the budget allocation for the Enugu airport terminal which was cut down to N500 million by lawmakers from the N2 billion submitted by the executive arm.As chairman of the Southeast Senate Caucus, Abaribe said the allocation was reduced after Committees on Aviation at the Senate and House of Representatives had jointly adopted the initial amount.He further mentioned that the caucus had even lobbied to increase the allocation to N3.5 billion but were unable to achieve it because it had an envelope budgetary plan which meant it couldn’t be increased past N2 billion.He disclosed that the caucus will meet soon and find out who made the cut and why it was made despite what had already been agreed.”No right thinking Igbo man would support any cut on allocation for projects in the south-east region,” he said.ALSO READ: National Assembly has N14.5bn question to answer over 2018 budgetBuhari lashes out at National Assembly for budget cutsAfter the signing of the N9.120 trillion budget at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his displeasure over the arbitrary cuts made by the legislature on certain items in the original bill that drastically affect the executives’ policies and projects.He noted that the legislature made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration while they also introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion at the same time.Lawmakers also increased the national assembly’s allocation from N125 billion to N139.5 billion in the bill sent back to the president, much to his annoyance. He said he only signed the bill because he didn’t want to further slow down the pace of recovery of Nigeria’s economy. He further disclosed that he’ll send “a supplementary and/or amendment budget” to the national assembly to rectify the critical issues he raised.

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