***As Appropriations committees submits report on rejigged budget Thursday
***As Senate says that N38billion earmaked for 2021 inconsequential
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Joint Committees on Appropriations of both the Senate and the House of Representatives have assured that they will submit the harmonised report on the rejigged N13.08 trillion 2021 budget proposals on Thursday for consideration and subsequent passage next week.
Disclosing this weekend, Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Jibrin Barau, All Progressives Congress, APC, Kano North, said, “Time table for that has already been drawn up and we shall work assiduously in keeping to it by submitting harmonized report of the budgetary proposal to the Senate on the 3rd of December , 2020 for final consideration and passage latest by the following week”.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly has said that if the 35,000 kilometres Federal Roads across the country must be effective and motorable, Nigeria as a country would require a whopping sum of N400 billion annually for maintenance.
According to the National Assembly, the N38 billion earmaked for that purpose in the 2021 budget proposal as grossly adequate for any serious road Maintenance work across the country.
Speaking with Journalists weekend in Abuja, the Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Roads Maintenance Agency ( FERMA), Senator Gershom Bassey, PDP, Cross Rivers South) who lamented the poor funding by the Federal Government on road maintenance, said that N400 billion was required for such projects yearly, adding that the N38billion earmaked for maintenance of over 35,000 kilometres Federal Roads across the country will not give Nigerians the desired results.
According to Senator Bassey, road maintenance in a country like Nigeria where road transportation is most used for movement of people , goods and services across the country can only be achieved with roughly about N400billion on yearly basis.
He said, “What the committee has just submitted to the Appropriation committee for such exercise in 2021 fiscal year , is the N38billion proposed for it by the executive , which cannot cover up to one quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.
“Unfortunately , despite having the power of Appropriation , we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portion of the road.
“Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive , may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media.
“But the situation on ground as far as the committees on FERMA at both Chambers are concerned , is very bad ,requiring far more than N38billion earmarked.
“If the roads are well maintained on yearly basis , reconstruction and rehabilitation which require bigger amounts of monies and years to carry out may not be necessary as frequently as they are now.”
Speaking further, Senator Barau disclosed that joint committees on Appropriations at both Chambers ia working round the clock for submission of harmonized report on the N13.08 trillion 2021 budget proposals .
The Senate Committee on FERMA being the last committee to submit its report to the Appropriation Committee on Friday, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations explained that the next stage of work for the committee is to carry out the required scrutinization of the reports, harmonize with the House of Representatives for submission at both Chambers on Thursday this week .
Barau said, “The process of presentation of reports as regards the 2021 budget estimates for the various MDAs by the various committees scrutinising them is over since all of the them have submitted their reports.
“What remains now is for those of us in the Appropriation committee to collate the reports in harmonisation with the House of Representatives for final consideration and passage by both Chambers.