2011 Budget: spending spree at Presidency -Businessday

The Presidency will be spending more this year on some household items that were previously budgeted for in 2010, a BusinessDay detailed look at the 2011 budget has shown.

In spite of the huge amount budgeted for furniture in 2010, there is another plan to spend N1.13 billion on residential furniture by the Presidency in 2011; about the same amount it is budgeting for the construction and building of residential buildings in 2011. The Presidency though, did not specify the number of beneficiaries involved here, but Real Estate practitioners estimate this is enough to build 100 four- bedroom bungalows in medium-housing areas of Lagos.

There is also a budget to buy canteen and kitchen equipment for N553 million. And still on residential buildings, the Presidency is ready to spend another N1.85 billion on rehabilitation and repairs of residential buildings; three times more than the N674 million it will be spending for construction and provision of office buildings.

All of these items were included in the 2010 budget and money released to finance them. Analysts are wondering why these allocations are made and in this magnitude less than a year when similar provisions where made.

The State House, made up of the President’s office and the Vice President’s office will spend N21.15 billion, more than half of the Presidency’s 2011 budget. Of this amount, N2.2 billion is personal cost; N117 million will be spent on local travel and transport for training purposes, while N752 million will be spent on local travel and transportation not related to training.

There is also a provision of N118 million for international travel for training purposes while N982 million will be spent on international travels not related to training. In total, the Presidency will spend N2.014 billion travelling locally and internationally in 2011.

Interestingly, the Presidency pays its bills, including its electricity bills which will cost the presidency N85 million in 2011. For Nigerians who think the Presidency is insulated against power cuts, they will be surprised to know that the Presidency will also spend N54 million to buy fuel for its generators.

This will be in addition to N129 million that the Presidency will spend on fuel for its fleet of vehicles. This amount is just a fraction of the N18 billion the Presidency is spending on its fleet of 11 planes. It is not known how many vehicles are in the Presidency’s fleet, but BusinessDay estimates show that N129 million will fuel 827 cars for one year if it costs N3,000 to fuel each car every week.

Auto mechanics looking for a lucrative customer should also look towards the Presidency as it will be spending N480 million for the maintenance of all the vehicles in its fleet in 2011. For furniture artisans, they may be tempted to switch work as auto mechanics or look elsewhere, as the Presidency is spending just N54 million to maintain furniture in 2011.

From the budget also comes the reality that it is not all work at the Presidency. There is, after all, time for relaxation and so, the Presidency plans to spend N312.4 million on refreshment and meals in 2011. There is also N383 million for “Welfare Packages.” It is not clear who gets this welfare package.

While the Presidency has been largely transparent about what it plans to spend its share of the revenue allocation on, in 2011, the National Assembly has cleverly hidden the details of its own planned expenditure from the 2011 budget. This is unlike budget 2010 when the legislature provided full details of the composition of its budget.

Details of the budget of the National Assembly obtained by BusinessDay shows that the total budget for the National Assembly in Budget 2011 is N108 billion. The break down shows that National Assembly Office will get N9.6 billion; National Assembly Service Commission – N1.3 billion; Legislative Aids – N7.73 billion; Senate Committee on Public Accounts – N128 million; House Committee on Public Accounts – N139 million; and the General Service Office of the House – N14 billion.

As for the Senate – comprising 109 members, it will get N29 billion while the 360 members of the House of Representatives will get N46 billion. This comes to an average of N266 million per Senator and N127 million per Representative. But while there is a detailed breakdown in the 2011 budget spending of other departments, such breakdowns were not given for the Senate and the House of Reps.

The 2010 budget, for instance, had a detailed breakdown for the Senate and the House of Reps. In the 2010 budget breakdown for the Senate, it showed that the Senate made a provision of N16 billion for miscellaneous expenses; N15 billion for “Honorarium and Sitting Allowances,” and another N15 billion for “Other Miscellaneous Expenses.” The Senate also had a budget of N5 billion in its budget 2010 for general – “Transport and Travels.”

The House of Reps had its budget details in the 2010 budget showing N18 billion allocated for “Local Travels and Transport”, and N4.74 billion for international travels and transport.

There is a strong suspicion that the increased public scrutiny on legislative expenses may have informed the decision not to provide the details in the 2011 budget. With the House charged with approving budget 2011, chances are, no one will be brave enough to compel them to provide details of their expenditure plan in 2011.

Source:Businessday

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