2016 Budget: NASS goofs on rail line projects vote, says Minister

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By Odunewu Segun

With the National Assembly insisting that Lagos-Calabar rail project was not included in the 2016 budget proposal sent to it by the executive, the ministry of budget and national planning has debunked this claim.

In a press release signed by the media adviser to the Minister of budget and national planning, Akpandem James, it was always the intention of the Executive to have both projects reflected in the budget submitted to the National Assembly.

The ministry said the budget that was accepted by the relevant committees, and defended by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi contained the two rail projects. And is therefore surprise by the utterances of the National Assembly on the matter.

“These projects are part of the Strategic Implementation Plan of the government which was disclosed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning at the National Economic Council Retreat in March 2016, in the presence of state governors. They were also mentioned by the Vice President last week in Lagos at The Nation Newspaper’s First National Economic Forum,” the statement said.

It also added that the N60b provided in the budget for the Lagos-Kano and Calabar-Lagos rail lines, respectively, was a counterpart funding, to support the Chinese financing for the projects.

According to the State Chairman of the APC in River State, Davies Ikanya, the lawmakers erred in removing ‘critical aspects’ of the 2016 Appropriation Bill, saying “some hawks within NASS are saying that the missing portions are not contained in the budget in the first instance but we are aware that in the amended budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari last January after the dust had settled over the ‘missing budget’, the sum of N80 billion was included for the Calabar – Lagos rail project in the amended budget by the executive and submitted to NASS.”

Senator Adesoji Akanbi, also reacting to the development, said: “Personally, I see no reason why the funds in the Ministry of Transportation should be moved completely to the Ministry of Works for the construction of roads which belong to state governments without engineering design.”