Home National news Minister Laments: N532.5bn Budget Too Small To Fight Poverty

Minister Laments: N532.5bn Budget Too Small To Fight Poverty

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The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, and Poverty Alleviation, Beta Edu, has said that the amount allocated to her ministry in the 2024 budget was not capable of fighting poverty in the country.

The Minister stated this on Tuesday when she led officials of her ministry and parastalas under it, to defend her 2024 budget before the Joint National Assembly Committee of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, chaired by Senator Idiat Adebule.

She said her ministry was given an overhead ceiling of N532.5bn which represents a 28 per cent increase over the 2023 budget to cushion the effects of inflation.

It is pertinent to note that the 28 per cent increase in the overhead ceiling is not commensurate to the 27.33 per cent inflationary rate in the economy today, she noted.

Edu said, “Conversely, the capital budget ceiling was reduced from N3.7bn in 2022 to N1.328316bn in 2023 and it represents a 71 per cent reduction.

“So, in 2022 and 2023, there was a 71 per cent reduction.

“However the pittance capital ceiling of N1.535b which is an increase from the current year’s budget does not in any way match with the mandate of the ministry’s headquarters to shrink poverty in Nigeria.”

The minister added, “Simply put, there was an over 71 per cent reduction between 2022 and 2023 so the minimal increase between 2023 and 2024 does not in any way match with the mandate which we have been given and what is expected of us.

“At this point, I will plead humbly and sincerely with the chairman, co-chair, and members of this great Committee that as we look into Nigeria as a nation. The burden lies on us to tackle the issue of poverty with sincerity. One thing you can take from me and my team working under the guardians of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is that he truly wants Nigerians to be out of poverty.

“Except the budget is appropriate for it, we would be completely unable to meet that mandate.“

She further explained, “It will be words that would not be marched with actions. I am happy that you represent constituencies and senatorial zones a lot is being expected of you from the government in your constituencies to meet their real sincere demands.

“That is the reason why this committee must go beyond board to ensure that the present budget which was given to the Ministry and agencies is carefully looked into, reconsidered, and something more reasonable and in keeping with the realities on the ground is done.

“The ministry has several special Projects which I will not like to mention and we intend to use these special Projects as agencies under us to meet the target.”

The minister further lamented that something very serious was omitted from the budget.

She told the Senate, “If you followed the news closely, the President who is the chairman of the Federal Executive Council recently approved the creation of the Humanitarian and Poverty Eradication Trust Fund.

“This Trust Fund is expected to have a contribution from the Federal Government of 30% counterpart funding which is supposed to come from donor agencies as well as development partners.

“We also have 30% coming from the private sector and then, 10% from other very innovative funds of resource mobilization which we have already started engagement

“Similarly, 10% is expected from other very innovative funds of resource mobilization for which we have already started engagements in the over 111 days in office. “

She added, “We have been engaging massively for these funds to come into Nigeria to support the implementation of programs which we will be implementing with you at the front burner by reaching out to your constituents

“However, Nigeria needs to put its part of the bargain on the table. This would be not just an attraction to those who are supposed to be bringing in the other percent but it will serve as a lighter to reach the poor and indeed eradicate poverty from our country.

“We plead with this great Committee that as you make your submission to the appropriation committee and of course furthermore to the final level where the gavel will go down on the 2024 Appropriation, we seek that you help us ensure the inclusion of these budget line as well as appropriation for this budget line.

“I would want to plead that we would have to as an executive.”

The Chairman of the Committee, Idiat Adebule asked whether the Minister presented the budget for the Trust Fund at the budget planning stage.

Beta Edu said it was presented to the Ministry of Budget but that it was not reflected in what her ministry got back.

Edu said, “This was clearly stated as an omission and that is why we are asked to bring in as a memo to the committee to see how they can consider it.

The committee members asked whether she had the Memo, and Beta responded in the affirmative.

The Minister was also asked whether she had discussed it with the minister for the budget she answered in the affirmative.

Edu said she was with the Budget Minister and that she engaged him and also the budget office. Punch

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