The lawmakers said having the Budget Office in the Presidency has made it a near-impossible task of achieving effective planning, implementation and proper coordination of the economy.
Chairman of the House Committee on National Planning Commission, Bethel Amadi, who spoke at NPC’s budget defence at the weekend in Abuja, said the nation should take a cue from other countries that have returned their Budget Office to Planning Commission.
He said: “Many of us in the House are agonised at the amount of resources given to the commission with such a large role. We are of the strong believe that you deserve more than the resources being given to you if you are to truly determine the growth pattern of our economy, implement and as well play your monitoring and evaluation role effectively.
“This is why we are of the opinion that budget office should be part and parcel of the National Planning Commission. The new way of having the budget office in Finance is not working.
“A lot of countries, like India and South Africa, have gone back to the old ways and it is working for them. The National Planning must sign off before Finance can pay. We can’t just be paying for projects, many of which are like stop gaps.
“This is why we have hundreds of uncompleted projects, most of which are very critical to our economy. We know the Ministry has been taken over by the Finance Ministry, but again we want to emphasise that the planning commission must be repositioned if the country is to achieve the desired change.
“We need to build strong institutions and not strong men and women. Powers and authorities should reside in institutions and not individuals.”
While the commission was praised for the achievements recorded last year despite the limited resources at its disposal, the lawmakers assured the Commission of the Committee’s determination of getting the right funding for it to carry out its mandate.
In his presentation, the Minister for National Planning and Vice Chairman of the NPC, Dr. Abubakar Sulaiman, who described last year’s appropriation as “ridiculous and release insignificant”, regretted that non-compliance with budget allocation by various sectors had remained the major hindrance to the nation’s development.
He also informed the committee that paucity of funds has made the realisation of the commission’s core mandate of formulating, implementing and monitoring/evaluation of policies and projects an uphill task.