The Budget Office has weighed in on the controversy surrounding the funds approved for the renovation of the National Assembly, saying the federal legislative arm got N9.25 billion and not N27 billion as reported in the media.
Ben Akabueze, Director-General of the Budget Office, made the clarification in a statement entitled: “Setting the facts right about the revised 2020 FGN budget”, which was issued on Wednesday.
The statement was an apparent reaction to calls by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Nigerians criticising the Federal Government for reducing the budgetary allocations to the health and education sectors, while approving N27 billion for the federal parliament’s renovation.
Akabueze debunked claims that budgetary allocations for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) were slashed by the Federal Government.
He explained that budgetary allocations for UBEC and BHCPF are drawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) and are set by law at two and one per cent respectively.
He noted that with the CRF negatively affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the funds transferred to UBEC and BHCPF were also affected based on the statutory provisions.
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The statement read: “Statutory transfers to UBEC (Basic Education) and BHCPF (Basic Health) are set by LAW at 2% and 1% respectively of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). Therefore, when the Covid-19 pandemic eroded the CRF, the budgetary provisions were automatically adjusted in accordance with the applicable laws.”
The Budget Office boss also explained that the budget for the renovation of the National Assembly was slashed by 75 per cent, insisting that the N27 billion figure speculated is false.
“The provision for renovation/retrofitting of the National Assembly (NASS) Complex in the revised budget is N9.25bn, not N27bn as being bandied around. The initial provision of N37bn in the 2020 Appropriation Act for this was cut by 75% due to the impact of Covid-19 on government revenues,” the statement read.