There was confusion yesterday on the N18 billion budget for Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) which the National Assembly earlier diverted but later restored through 2013 budget amendment, as the Director General of Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogwu, alleged that till date the money was not available for the committee.
Okogwu, who is SURE-P’s accounting officer, at a meeting with the committee, disclosed that the money was erroneously restored to infrastructure instead of SURE-P and therefore the mistake had hindered the execution of proposed projects under SURE-P.
Meanwhile, chairman of the committee, Senator Abdul Ningi, expressed displeasure that SURE-P had refused to produce the list of 3,000 graduates it claimed to have employed in each state of the country and paid N10,000 monthly salary each. The sum amounts to N11.2 billion per annum.
According to Ningi, despite the committee demanding the list in the past two months, SURE-P committee had failed to produce it.
He insisted the committee must produce the list of all beneficiaries of the programme across the federation before further action is taken.
“We asked SURE-P to provide the list of 3,000 youths receiving N10,000 monthly. It is up to two months now, we have not received anything. We are not aware that the programme is on and we cannot go further until we are given documentation of people who are collecting money from SURE-P per month,” he threatened.
Ningi also regretted that Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had refused to appear before the committee.
Ningi insisted that Okonjo-Iweala must appear before the committee as the minister of finance to brief the committee on how money was disbursed especially with regards to SURE-P.
But responding, Okogwu assured the committee that he would demand the list from SURE-P committee as he further appealed to the senators to do everything within their reach to get the diverted fund restored to SURE-P budget.
Also, yesterday the Senate Committee on Public Accounts heard how a N10 billion meant for the supply of tricycles and disbursed through microfinance banks were never remitted to the committee on National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP).
This revelation was made when the committee chairman, Alhaji Mukthar Tafawa Balewa, appeared before the committee.
The committee was also told that the committee on NAPEP had been unable to recover the money because some of the banks had folded up.
The Senator Ahmad Lawan-led committee also grilled a contractor, Autoban, who was meant to supply 5,000 units of Keke NAPEP but only supplied 1,310.
Also yesterday, the Senate paid tributes to former National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Solomon Lar, who passed on in the United States recently after a protracted illness.
Accordingly, the senators urged the federal government to immortalise him.
They also resolved to send a high powered delegation to commiserate with his family, the people and government of Plateau State.
Information from This Day was used in this report.