By A’isha Biola Raji
The minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammed Bello has explained how the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), spent a total sum of N28.5billion on some activities within FCT during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during lockdown.
The minister gave this explanation yesterday in Abuja when he presented the revised 2020 budget before Senator Abubakar Kyari of All Progressives Congress (APC) Borno North.
Explaining to Senator Kyari, Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Mallam Bello explained that the fund was spent on provision of security services, palliatives for indigent residents as well as assisting neighbouring states who were distressed.
According to him, the FCT health facility supported residents from states where the level of government assistance was low and that the territory also provided healthcare services for both residents and non-residents of the city.
The minister pointed out that these interventions took a heavy toll on the financial resources of the FCT. According to him, “A lot was done on the provision of palliatives for the masses, especially as help was not forthcoming from anywhere when the COVID-19 crisis started.”
Bello however urged the Senate to review the FCT budget to reflect the realities on ground with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the territory realised N136billion from various sources, representing 54% of the N232.8billion earlier projected by the agency.
According to him, the FCT is seeking a Senate review of its budget to enable it take care of key areas that must be sustained despite COVID-19, adding that almost all areas of the budget had been cut by 50%, except areas that have direct bearing on human lives, such as school feeding programme, salaries, grants, among others.
Bello said N61billion has been proposed for capital projects, especially due to need to continue the execution of key ongoing projects.
He said 97.1% has been spent on recurrent budget, just as most 2020 capital projects have been rolled over to 2021 in the revised budget to be sent to the National Assembly for consideration.
In his remarks, Kyari hailed FCT over its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. He said the prediction from the Western countries was gloomy for Nigeria as the level of death predicted by the West did not take place due to policies and strategy provided by the minister, adding that senate is appreciative of his contributions and efforts to ensure that COVID-19 did not spread across the city.
Kyari assured the minister that the Senate committee will expeditiously consider the revised budget of the FCT and send to the Senate for approval. He however, requested that the 2021 budget of the territory be prepared and submitted early enough for quick passage by the Senate in meeting up with the January to December budget implementation cycle that was started this year.
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