By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Committee on Finance yesterday asked the Minister of Finance to submit all documents for the $460m Closed Circuit Television contract for proper investigation.
This was just as the Committee queried the Minister over the huge expenditure on furniture , phone bills and “miscellaneous” and “others” which they said usually features prominently in the budget annually.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. James Faleke (APC-Lagos) said this during the 2020 budget defence of the Ministry of Finance and National Planning on Thursday at the National Assembly.
He said “Before this administration, we have collected some loans and the one that strikes me the most is the 460 million dollars for CCTV installation in Abuja. “ want to know the position of this loan, I am sure we are paying back but the CCTV is not working.
“Any time we take loan from China, the Chinese will come and do the job, they will bring all their equipment, the personnel and the goods and yet we do not have value for the money especially that of the CCTV.
“Where are we? We need you to look into it and send us a memo on this particular aspect, “ he said.
Responding, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed told the committee members that only the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Authority can sufficiently answer the question.
She said “We are servicing the loan but on the project, we will have to ask the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Authority because the project was deployed in the FCT, I have no information on the status of the CCTV.
“The conditions of the loans that we take from China always will be that a Chinese company will provide the infrastructure services.
“These are loans that is of three per cent, the rails lines are being rolled out, the Abuja-Kaduna, Lagos-Ibadan rails are all loans from China and are being executed by Chinese companies.”
She further said that the Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano airport rehabilitations were done by Chinese companies and are supervised by the relevant ministries and the National Assembly to ensure quality.
She added that there are a lot of Nigerians who work with the Chinese personnel in implementing the projects which create a lot of local jobs.
The Committee also queried the Minister over the huge expenditure on furniture , phone bills and “miscellaneous” and “others” which they said usually features prominently in the budget annually.
They gave her notice of the intention of the Committee to remove such items from the budget.
On the 2019 budget releases, the minister said that as at October, the ministry had released 100 per cent for personnel.
Ahmed said that for debt service, payment is also at 100 per cent and that for overhead, six out of 10 months had been released.
She said that some critical ministries had revived overhead for nine out of the 10 months.
The minister said that as at October 15, N654 billion had been released for capital expenditures.
According to her, the plan is to ensure that by December, every Ministry, Department and Agencies (MDAs) should have received at least 40 per cent of their capital expenditures.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Mohammed Dutse said that N1.3 billion was earmarked for overhead but N664 million has been released.
He said that N3.3 billion was allocated for capital expenditure but only N1.8 million has so far been released.
For the ministry’s 2020 budget, the permanent secretary said that N4.36 million was proposed for personnel cost, N1.3 billion for overhead and N3.3 billion for capital expenditures.