Reps C’ttee queries Aviation Ministry over  spurious budgetary allocations


.Chinazor Megbolu    |

The House of Representatives Committee on Aviation has queried the Aviation Ministry  over the allocation of N10 million for sensitisation of staff to Independent Corruption Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act.
The Committee on Thursday during the 2021 budget defence in Abuja raised objection to the allocation of N200 million for consultancy fee on the concession of four international airports in the ministry’s 2021 budget.
A member of the Committee, Mr. Akin Alabi representing APC-Oyo, said that N5 million was budgeted for the ministry for the ICPC Act sensitisation in the 2020 budget.
According to him; “ICPC Act sensitisation, you want to sensitise your members of staff about (to) ICPC, last year (2020) N5 million was budgeted for it, this year, (2021) N10 million.
“This is to sensitise them to the ICPC Act, I do not get that, can you explain that?
“A lot of Nigerians are not impressed about the National Carrier project, the working capital for the national carrier in the 2020 budget, N2.2 billion allocated and this year 2021, you are asking for N1 billion.
“Can you explain what you mean by working capital because I know it is definitely not to buy planes, so can you explain what these billions, year-in-year-out is meant for as regards working capital.
“For the concession of four international airport, Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, last year, N297 million was budgeted for it and this year, you are asking for N200 million.
“What type of consultancy is this that will cost half a billion? For the national carrier, you are still requesting for N250 million for consultancy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in his response said it was important that members of staff in the ministry and agencies under it were sensitised to the Act.
He also added that it was very important to sensitise and endeavour that everybody follow the rule as well as ensuring they ran on the narrow path of peace and justice.
Sirika further noted that the ministry was out to set up a strong national carrier that was commensurate with the population size, market, manpower of the country and also add value to the nation’s economy.
He posited that the ministry had grown the number of passengers from 8 million to 18 million since 2015 and airplane management had also improved in a significant manner.
Sirika averred that all these could be made a lot better if the country have a well established and structured private sector-led national carrier.
“The fact that the money is there in the budget, does not mean it was released or utilised. Since we began this project, the amount spent on the activities of carriers so far if I am not mistaken, is N350 million.
“By the grace of God, I want to assure this Committee and indeed all Nigerians that this national carrier will come to be and it will be for the benefit of our people,” he said.
On the 2020 budget performance, Sirika explained that N40.2 billion was allocated for capital expenditures but was reviewed downward to N33.3 billion because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He buttressed that only N19.4 billion, representing 58.3 per cent had been  released to the ministry, adding that N250 million was budgeted for overhead expenditures but was reviewed to N171 million and that N132.8 million representing 77 per cent had been so far released.
He maintained that for the 2021 budget, N78.9 billion was earmarked for capital expenditures, stressing that N250 million is proposed for overhead cost while the personnel cost is N397 million, making a total of N647.1 million for recurrent expenditures.

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