The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Thursday met with the chairmen of Senate committees behind closed doors.
The meeting, which held at the conference room located at the ground floor of the new Senate building, lasted for close to four hours.
Although details of the meeting were sketchy as at the time of filing this report, our correspondents gathered that the 2013 budget was the central theme of the discussions.
The minister did not entertain questions from journalists after the meeting.
A senator, who was privy to the meeting, told one of our correspondents that the vexed issue of constituency projects was also discussed.
He said, “We made it clear to her that constituency projects cannot be wished away because, for most of our communities, it is virtually the only way they get a sense of belonging.
“Our constituents are interested in knowing how we are going to attract federal presence to complement the little the states and local governments are doing.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, confirmed that the 2013 budget was the central focus of the meeting.
Abaribe said, “We wanted insights into the budget that is coming and the minister briefed us on the 2012 budget performance and gave us figures on what has been released so far.
“We also collected documents on the budget performance and we are going to reconvene the meeting a few weeks from now.”
He added, “Our committees will now go out on oversight of their respective agencies with regards to the figures the minister gave so as to us to determine the extent of utilization.
“We are not just interested in what was released, but are interested in actual utilization of funds.”
The Federal Government is expected to present an aggregate expenditure of N4.92tn to the National Assembly for the 2013 fiscal year.
The proposal will be an increase of about N300bn, given that the aggregate expenditure for 2012 was N4.697tn.
The details were contained in the 2013-2015 Fiscal Framework presented to the Senate on Wednesday by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Jonathan said the 2013 fiscal year would also witness the rationalisation of the large number of federal agencies based on the recommendations of the Oronsaye committee.
He also promised to streamline the management of the petroleum product subsidy scheme in the light of the huge amount paid to offset the claims in 2011.
He said, “The reduction in the size of government will be achieved through stricter rationalization of available resources including sustaining the reduction of overhead votes.
“The figure for overheads decreased from N536bn in 2010 to N266bn in 2012. It is expected to further decrease in 2013 to N230bn or 4.67 per cent of total expenditure.”