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Budget 2016: NASS uncovers fresh N500bn ‘padding’

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The National Assembly Budget Office has discovered fresh padding of over N500 billion contained in the budgetary proposals for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the 2016 budget proposals being worked upon by the legislature.

Sources at the National Assembly told the Nigerian Tribune that the discovery of the bogus figures was responsible for the failure of the committees on appropriation to lay the report on the budget in the Senate and the House of Representatives last week Thursday.

A booklet containing the errors and padding were release to the senators and members of the House of Representatives on Thursday last week.

The National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO), which published the questionable figures, said in the preface to the publication that it embarked on the scrutiny of the budget “to give technical support to member of the legislature, by pointing out some errors in the bill.”

It further said “given the current challenge of abnormalities in the 2016 budget proposal, where projects are repeated more than once in the budget and others undefined, NABRO rose to the occasion by providing the legislature with an accurate and inclusive review of the line items in the 2016 appropriation bill.”

The breakdown of repeated items showed that items totaling the sum of N1.030 billion were repeated in the estimates for Ministry of Agriculture.

Some of the items include the N20 million repeated in the name of “water reticulation in main station” repeated twice as N15 million and another N5 million for the National Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), Benin; the sum of N 198 million for the Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Ibadan; another N98 million for the Federal College of Agriculture, Moore Plantation, Ibadan; the same of N676 million for the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Lagos; N23 million for Federal College of Land Resources Technology, Kuru, Jos and the sum of N14 million for Nigerian Institute of Animal Science.

The Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Ibadan, Oyo State, had the sum of N64.3 million repeated for “advertisement in the dailies, opening ceremony and commencement of training programme, purchase and distribution of start-up kits, closing ceremony and departure.” The same item was captured with the sum of N43.3 million in the same budget.

The same institute also has different figures captured as “substructures, concrete works, block works of roof and roofing coverings, metal work (windows), doors and ironmongery and plumbing installation,” which has the sum of N43.3 million and N37.1 million in the same budget.

NABRO submitted that the above represented repetitions in the Ministry of Agriculture, with some items captured as recurrent and capital projects at the same time.
It stated that the projects in the ministry were not detailed in terms of location and scope.

The NASS Budget Office also raised issues with the contents of the Service Wide Votes, which had the sum of N370.003 billion in its capital component, but was recalculated to the sum of N7.4 billion by NABRO.
The office said the difference stood at the sum of N362.5 billion.
Also affected is the Ministry of Communications Technology which had the sum of N6.7 billion repeated in different subheads.

For instance, the office said the ministry had different figures for one line item “supervision of the work,” which was repeated with figures including N832,300, N381,600, N2,064,000 and N1,231,600.
It also had the sum of N302,801 and N1,933,250 as amount for “preliminary works” in the same budget.
The Ministry of Environment accounted for repeated amounts totaling N367.7 million; National Park Headquarters, N5.5 million; Federal Capital Territory (N6.9 billion); Foreign Affairs (N10.04 million); office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (N152.8 million); Ministry of Science and Technology, N382 million; Ministry of Works, Power and Housing (N8 billion).

Of that amount, the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) accounted for N828.7 million, while the headquarters of the ministry accounted for N6.47 billion.
The document also discovered a repetition of the sum of N1.4 billion under the National Rural Electrification Agency and another N206.8 million for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
The document also indicated that the Ministry of Transport repeated a number of items in the recurrent and capital projects.

The ministry, according to the document, had a line item captured as “Furniture, Electronic gadgets, electrical appliances, stationeries and essential commondities” in the capital and recurrent votes. The item has N27,200,000 in capital votes and N43,856,016 in the recurrent.
It also had a subject considered as curious by NABRO captured as “to ensure effective operation of the parastatals’ which has the sum of N25 million under  recurrent expenditure. The office remarked that “more details may be required.”

The ministry also repeated the item “provision of sports equipment for participation in sports activities” and another purchase of sporting/gaming equipment which got allotted the sums of N33 million under capital votes and another N47 million in the recurrent votes.
NABRO described the items as “similar projects.”

The Ministry of Interior, according to the report, had the sum of N150 million repeated under the item “purchase of 6 nos marine patrol boats” which appears as recurrent and capital votes, while it also had the sum of N200 million  as both capital and recurrent votes under the line item “purchase of generating set,” aside the sum of N1.5 billion captured as “rehabilitation/renovation of existing barracks” which also appears in the capital and recurrent votes.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the report noted, also had the sum of N2.6 billion and another N801.9 million repeated as purchase of security equipment and purchase of defence equipment.
In the Ministry of Health, NABRO queried the sum of N209 million it described as “bilateral discussion with agencies of the Ministry, BOF and NASS monitoring and evaluation, e-payment and procurement of office equipment,” and another N1.9 billion described as “new items requesting.”
The office said explanations had to be provided for the said items.

In the Ministry of Education, NABRO discovered that the sum of N1.9 billion was captured under repeated items.
While the ministry allotted the sum of N1.9 billion for an item “acquisition of 17 offices for federal education quality assurance service,” under capital votes, it equally allotted the sum of N53 million for the same item under recurrent votes.

The Budget Office of the the National Assembly also discovered the curious allocation for “other maintenance services” captured in the allocation for West African Examination Council (WAEC); National Library of Nigeria; National Educations Council; Mass Literacy Council; Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria and the National Commission for Colleges of Education Secretariat.
The NABRO concluded that: “The 2016 budget proposal of the Federal Government of Nigeria has many areas that definitely require strict oversight by the legislature.

“The identification of repeated and undefined projects in the budgeted proposal is an area of concern that National Assembly Budget and Research Office consider necessary for effective legislative oversight.
“The need to make ‘The Change Mantra’ a reality also includes thorough legislative input into the budget as well as ensure full implementation by the Executive.”

Tribune

 

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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