Abuja - The House of Representatives on Thursday queried the Federal Ministry of Finance for selective release of funds in the implementation of the 2012 budget.
Rep. John Enoh (PDP-Cross River), Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, expressed the position of the House at a meeting with the Minister of Finance.
According to Enoh, there are issues of segregation and issues of selectivity in release of funds for the second quarter.
"Members are worried that MDAs cannot execute projects and we want the executive to address this.”
He said that while Niger Delta Ministry had 50 percent of its funds released, water resources with N70 billion budget estimate had only N10 billion released.
Enoh also said that Housing with N42 billion allocation had only N6 billion released as at July.
He said that the House was concerned with the purported directive to all MDAs to implement the budget in strict compliance with the original proposal submitted to the National Assembly by the Presidency.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance, explained that the Federal Government introduced the selective release of funds to MDAs based on their performance with the first quarter releases.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, said the ministry had so far released N404 billion for the first and second quarter of the year.
She said the amount was made up of N304 billion and N100 billion for first and second quarters respectively.
The minister explained that in the first quarter, the ministry made releases across board but had to apply the performance indices when it discovered that some MDAs were not living up their responsibilities.
"I want to assure the House that in terms of segregation and the way releases are done is transparent.
``But when we look at performances of ministries, we encourage them to utilise their resources before we release the next one.
"You will notice that out of the N8 billion released to Ministry of Water Resources in the first quarter, the performance is 12.12 per cent; and other ministries like power and Agriculture.
“I can assure you that the President and Council met and discussed the issue of utilisation to see that we made steady progress.
"I want to assure you that with the next releases, we will step up and prioritise. We will be able to fix some of the gaps in some of the ministries.”
Okonjo-Iweala said the ministry was watching the performance of the economy on what was happening globally.
The minister said that Nigeria had $5.8 billion in the excess crude account.
She pleaded that the account be allowed to grow up to $10 billion, saying "we need to manage our resources prudently.''
``These are the parameters that we need to watch as we implement the 2012 budget."