The decision by the Federal Government to earmark N4.9 billion for electrical maintenance annually in the Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, is to keep the facilities in good shape, the Director General Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, has said.
Akabueze said this yesterday in Abuja during an engagement with the media and civil society on the 2018 proposed budget.
“The Villa is quite an expansive edifice with several residences and support services, so as significant as N4.9 billion sounds it is not too much to keep those facilities in top shape that they have been kept. Anyone who has been to the villa will appreciate that it is one of the best maintained edifice in the country,” he said.
He also indicated that for now, there was no provision of the proposed minimum wage increase in the 2018 budget, adding that what was factored in was N40bn for public service wage adjustment and that can’t suffice for a wage rise for all federal staff.
“As at when the agreement (minimum wage) will be reached, the financial implications of that will be quantified and if need be, there will be a supplementary budget. However, what exists now is what we call the public service wage adjustment. That’s barely over N40bn provided and that is not enough to cater for any adjustments that will be necessary,” he explained.
Speaking on other budgetary provisions the citizens considers wasteful and over bloated, he justified all budgetary provisions saying they were carefully scrutinized, and specifically justified the N4.9bn proposed budgeted for the annual maintenance of mechanical and electrical equipment in the Presidential Villa.
He also justified the proposed N2.2bn earmarked for the DSS for a supposed social media mining suite and the N1.14bn proposed budget for cleaning and fumigation of the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“This is not the type of cleaning and fumigation that you and I know as matters of security are treated with some degree of confidentiality. It could be cleaning and fumigation of some criminal elements,” he said, while justifying the nebulous budget sub-head.
On the N2.2bn social media mining suit under the DSS, Mr. Akabueze said “the DSS planned to execute some security protocol to curtail spread of false information which they think could threaten national security.
“They have assured us that their intention is not to hinder freedom of expression. But again, different countries in the world agree with this and that’s the reality of our world today,” he noted.
On the attacks on farmers and implications to food security and impact on the 3.5 percent projection of the 2018 proposed budget, he said “first of all, these are localized occurrences, as worrisome as they are, so we do not think that they would have such pervasive adverse impact on agricultural sector as to pull down significantly the overall growth projection.”