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Sanusi’s suspension stalls CBN’s budget defence

The suspension of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, stalled the defence of the apex  bank’s 2014 budget at the House of Representatives on Monday.

The CBN’s projected revenue for the year is about N553.1billion.

Out of the money, the bank proposes to spend N377.9bn  on its operations.

Its  overhead cost is put at N23.9bn, while the personnel cost will consume N98bn.

However, at a meeting between the House Committee on Finance and revenue generating agencies in Abuja, the CBN was disallowed from making a presentation.

The leadership change at the bank was said to have prevented the Acting Governor, Mrs. Sarah Alade, from appearing in person to defend the budget of the bank.

She had sent officers of the rank of deputy director to the committee.

But, the Chairman, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, turned them away on the grounds that no officer below the rank of deputy governor would speak before the committee.

He noted that the fact of Sanusi’s suspension did not mean that the CBN was grounded.

Jibrin added, “Nothing is standing still there. It is still running as normal.

“This is a serious issue. We won’t take a deputy director. Let the Acting Governor know that she has to appear in person.”

On its part, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to turn up for the meeting, a development that forced the committee to give the corporation an ultimatum of 24 hours to appear without fail.

The budget of the oil corporation shows that it will generate N3.9trillion this year.

Out of the money, its internal expenditure will gulp N3.5tn, including overhead cost of N398.3bn and personnel cost of N184.7bn.

Jibrin directed that the corporation must appear for the defence on Tuesday.

The committee also noticed conflicting submissions between the Budget Office of the Federation and many agencies, which it said could affect the passage of the 2014 budget by the National Assembly.

The national budget proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan is N4.6trillion.

For example, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency disagreed with the proposals recorded for them by the budget office.

In the case of FAAN, it had projected  N56bn as its revenue for the year, but the budget office recorded N17.2bn for the agency.

Jibrin observed that such inconsistencies would delay the progress of work on the national  budget.

“The budget office submitted a document for revenue projections for the 2014 budget, but here are some of the agencies saying no.

“For instance, the budget office projected the revenue of FAAN as N17.2bn, but FAAN is saying they projected N56bn, with a view to remitting N500 million during the fiscal year.”

The committee asked the agencies, especially NIMASA and FAAN to go back and reconcile the figures before reappearing before it on Wednesday.

NIMASA was queried for spending its revenue over the years without remitting the 25 per cent directed by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.

Jibrin stated, “Why will you spend without remitting? Your action is in breach of the laws of the land.

“We have to find ways out of this. Over the years, generation and remittances takes the same pattern. Why?

“The whole thing looks like some arranged figures.”

But, NIMASA’s Executive Director, Finance, Mr. Haruna Baba, told the committee that the agency remitted revenue based on the amount it could generate.

According to him, the agency had remitted over  N21.4bn so far to government.

“Whatever we generate, we take out 30 per cent for maritime infrastructure, which we spend after appropriation by the National Assembly”, Baba explained.

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