Finance Minister: Military ‘Inaction’ Delaying Supplementary Budget Proposal

From Victor Osula, Abuja
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has  blamed what she referred to as military inaction for the delay in wrapping up the proposed supplementary budget for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and additional military equipment.

Speaking with State House Correspondents on Wednesday after the week’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, which was presided over by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN),she said the non-submission of budget estimates by military chiefs was delaying the proposed budget.

The Minister of Finance was asked to give an idea of the size of the proposed Supplementary Budget, during the post-FEC briefing, she said her ministry was still waiting for Defense to make its estimates ready for the proposed bill.
She explained that her Ministry has met with the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, and the three service chiefs on the need for urgency to have the estimates for the military hardwares to be procured so as to include it in the proposed Supplementary Budget.
The Minister stated that up till now the security chiefs were yet to furnish her office with the details but expressed hope that the estimate will come before long.
“For the military hardware, we have met with the Service Chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff. They are supposed to aggregate their request for review amongst themselves and then pass it to Mr. President, then it will be sent to us. So we are waiting for the information of the aggregate requirements”, she said.
She further explained that the supplementary budgetary estimate for COVID-19 vaccines prepared by her Ministry and that of health is ready, but was quick to say that the amount initially voted for the building of primary healthcare centres had been kept on hold for now.
“Sometime in January, the President based on the request by the Ministry of Health gave an approval in principle for the Ministry of Health to work with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to prepare and take to the National Assembly a supplementary budget for COVID-19 vaccination.
“The submission that was made to Mr. President at that time was in the sum of N399 billion, but included in this N399 billion was a N103 billion for building of primary healthcare centres.
“So we’ve worked with and met several times with the ministry, we’ve agreed to back out from this building of primary health care centres, that can wait till later. So there’s still a provision of 396 billion for COVID-19 vaccinations for 2021 and 2022”.
Zainab also revealed that Nigeria was expecting not less than 43 million COVID-19 doses from donors adding that health ministry officials have been mandated to come up with the total number of vaccine donation being expected to guide government in its plans to buy more vaccines for the citizenry.
“There has been some delays because we expected the ministry to confirm the vaccines donation that Nigeria is expecting. We are expecting a total of not less than 43 million doses of vaccines. So they are supposed to find out when those ones will come. Because, if we are going to get the back the donated vaccines, and at the speed of the current rollout, we have slow down on what we’re buying ourselves.
“So the ministry is working with partners that are donating this vaccines. So we see the timelines of the donations and see the gap that the government needs to fill in 2021.
“But we have already provided to the ministry funds to enable them roll out the 4 million vaccines that have been brought already into the country, and the vaccination process is ongoing.
“So for us is still work in progress. We hope in the next couple of days, we’ll have clarity on the schedule of vaccines expected from donors, and then we will now be able to firm up what government has to provide for in 2021. And therefore the 2022 component we will provide it during the 2022 appropriations”, she explained.