Thursday, 29 December 2011

FG to spend N11.25bn on foreign trips in 2012

Ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government will spend a whopping N11.25bn on international travels in 2012.

The amount is contained in the 2012 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Analysis of the travel expenditure of the government shows that the Ministry of Defence with all its agencies has the largest allocation of N4.14bn.

The agencies under defence include, Defence Headquarters with a N79.5m travel budget; Ministry of Defence, 114.9m; Nigerian Army, N335.6m; Navy, N413.3m; Air Force, N1.7bn; NDA, N84.7m; Defence College, N50.2m; DIA, N447.5m; DIS, N447.5m; and Defence Missions, N470m.

The allocation to defence is closely followed by that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has the sum of N3.31bn.

The Presidency wants N951m for foreign travels, while the Finance ministry will spend N287m on foreign travels at, a little more than the budget of the Education ministry’s N283.4m.

Others who also got large allocations for their trips abroad for the new year  are the Ministry of Petroleum, N155m; Justice, N122m; and Trade and Investment, N109m.

A further breakdown of the allocation shows that selected police officers would have N229m for their travels abroad. The Ministry of Police Affairs gets NN48.5m; Youth, N24.2m; Women Affairs, N60.5mi Agriculture, N34m; and Water Resources, N49.9m.

The Office of the Auditor General of the Federation has N89m allocated to it; the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission has N78million; Information and National Orientation, N63.3m;Communications Technology; N44.3m; Interior, N10m; Head of Service, N92.1m Science and Technology, N82m; Labour and Productivity, N74.9m; Power, N71.8m; Transport, N120mi and Works, N59million.

Other agencies benefiting from the foreign trip  largesse are the Ministry of Lands and Housing, N54.8million; Mines and Steel, N58milllion; Aviation, N45.8m; Salaries and Wages, N19.8m; Environment,  N53.2m; Culture,  N80.8m; National Planning, N81.7m; NPC, N13.9m; and Code of Conduct Bureau, N24.87m.

The rest are Code of Conduct Tribunal, N12.2m; Public Complaints Commission, N34.3m; Revenue Mobilisation, N89m; Federal Civil Service, N62.9m; and Federal Character Commission, N49m.

In her reaction to the budget, the President of the Campaign for Democracy, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, called on the government to stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Okei-Odumakin warned the Jonathan administration to get its priorities right.

“Whatever they do today, they must be held accoutable one day. We are not in any- way in support of any frivolity,” she added.

Okei-Odumakin stated, “Voting such a huge amount of money on foreign travels, in spite of the glaring problems we are facing, is highly insensitive.

“What are they going to look for? They are looking for investment? Europe is in turmoil. America has its own problems. Why can’t we spend the money to meet the needs of Nigerians, instead of travelling with a retinue of aides and embarking on frivolous trips?”

Also, academic and lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, described the budget as “wasteful and reckless.” He also said the presidency’s action amounted to irresponsibility.
Sagay expressed concerns that the country would never grow if the government continued to waste scarce resources on frivolous ventures.

Speaking to one of our correspondents on the telephone, he said, “That obviously is wasteful and reckless. We are talking of a country where the budget for capital projects is just about 27 per cent, while recurrent expenditure is more than 70 per cent.

“It is a sign of irresponsibility –  that means Nigeria will never grow. They (government) are the ones spoiling the economy. All this money spent on entertainment and other unproductive ventures is wasted money.”

Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has called  for  the suspension of foreign trips, as a means of reducing the cost of governance.
At a press conference after the Supreme Court affirmed that President Goodluck Jonathan won the April presidential poll, Buhari said, “Government House expenses in all the states should be drastically reduced and foreign travel suspended for a while. The National Assembly should give a lead in reducing their allowances substantially and stopping their foreign travels.”

According to him, “These savings should be applied to education, infrastructure and agriculture with emphasis on youth employment through meaningful and practical emergency programmes.”

Although the Federal Government has promised that it will cut down overheads, the amount for foreign travels contradicts the government’s statement on the need to reduce waste.

President of the Senate David Mark had noted that the National Assembly would take the lead in reducing its overheads, praying that the executive would do the same.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had separately expressed displeasure over the amount earmarked for recurrent expenditure in 2012, vowing to cut down.

The budget has been read a second time and has been committed to committees for further legislative work.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More