[N]ine state ministries, departments and agencies have, again, shunned the directive issued by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly requesting them to submit and defend details of their agencies’ 2018 budget.
After they failed to honour earlier invitations, the Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Finance had fixed Thursday for the exercise in order to enable it conclude work on the budget estimates within stipulated time.
But despite the rescheduled date, the committee “observed with utter dismay that a reasonable number of MDAs failed to turn up for the defence of their budget proposals”, said a visibly disappointed Usoro Akpanusoh, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations and Finance.
The affected MDAs are: Ministry of Culture and Tourism, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Akwa Ibom Hotels and Tourism Board, Akwa Ibom Liaison Office, Abuja and College of Health Technology, Etinan.
Others are Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation, Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Ministry of Lands and Town Planning and Akwa Ibom Water Company Limited.
Out of the 11 MDAs scheduled for the exercise on Thursday, only two were received and screened by the lawmakers.
While the Orman Esin’s led Ministry of Transport and Petroleum Resources defended successfully, the Ministry of Economic Development appeared late for the exercise, and so could not be taken.
Akpanusoh said the State Universal Basic Education Board and the School of Health Technology, Etinan, sent letters of excuse from the exercise, but noted that there were “no letters” and “no information” from others.
Akpanusoh said, “The Appropriations and Finance Committee is empowered to recommend zero allocation to MDAs that fail to appear for defence of their budget proposals.
“If they have any reason not to to appear before us, we will invoke the (relevant) section of the Standing Order of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly against such MDAs”.
As part of the budget defence exercise, Akpanusoh said an inspection exercise has been scheduled to hold on Wednesday, next week, at the non-functional Four Points by Sharaton Hotel built by the former Godswill Akpabio administration at Ikot Ekpene.
Also, Akpanusoh said a latter has been sent to the Ministry of Special Duties to intimate it of his committee’s planned inspection exercise at the Akwa Ibom Liaison Office in Lagos.
At press time, Propellerng.com could not ascertain reasons behind the absence of the affected MDAs, but it was gathered that most of the absentees may have shunned the exercise owing to the premise that they participated in previous budget defences but could not draw funds from the state coffers at the end of fiscal year.
After the 2018 budget estimates presented by Governor Udom Emmanuel in December 2017 passed through the second reading on the floor of the Akwa Ibom assembly, it was committed to the Appropriations and Finance Committee of the House, as required by law, for in depth study and scrutiny, part of this responsibility which includes theongoing budget defence exercise.