The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) on Tuesday in Kaduna expressed concern over the slow pace of execution of the only ongoing Federal Government capital project at Kaduna Polytechnic.
The project is the construction of new lecture halls and staff offices that began in 2013 at the main campus of Kaduna Polytechnic.
The project comprises two units of lecture halls of 100 sitting capacity each and 42 staff offices,
Mrs Maryam Mohammed, the Commission’s Director of Planning, Research and Statistics and 2018 Physical Verification Team leader for the North West Zone, expressed the concern while inspecting the project at the institution.
Mohammed said the team was worried about the 49.9 per cent completion stage of the project after receiving over N80 million of the N174.9 million contract sum according to the polytechnic officials who could not provide adequate documents for proper assessment of the project.
According to her, more worrisome was the timeline of the project, which according to Mr Abdullahi Yusuf, Chief Accountant in charge of Staff Services, was initiated in 2013 and was meant to be completed within 40 months, but was still at 49.9 per cent completion.
“The project cost is N174.9 million and so far more than N80 million had been paid, but work is still ongoing. I am also not happy with their poor documentation because I expect an institution like this should have all its documents intact before arrival of the team.
“ We are out to conduct a physical verification of projects and in the process ensure that the project are there on ground, ensure value for money for the Federal Government and see if what was approved in the budget and released are commensurate with the job done.
“ We are already here in Kadunna Polytechnic, and since the last one and half hours we have been trying unsuccessfully to get the relevant documents.
“But what I have seen is they do not seem to have proper documentation because we have requested for their Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which they do not know about. And that should form the foundation of the budget.
“We have requested also for the approved budget from 2013 to date, but that too has not been made available. Apparently, from all indications, the execution of project does not tally with the approved budget.
“ From our findings, they seem to use the budget as approved by the council of the institution to substitute as Federal Government approved budget for the institution.
“This is totally out of place. The Federal Government approves budget for all her institutions and agencies and this institution is not an exception.
“We have pointed out to the officials that if the MTEF was followed as it should be, according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act and put in the budget, that would have hastened the completion of this project.
“Government would have known the project duration and would have made funds available for the project to be completed.
“We are looking at the procurement process to see if it conforms with due process for procurement because Section 38 (A and B) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act empowers the commission to do so.”
According to her, looking at the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the Institution, the polytechnic makes a lot in terms of IGR. For instance in 2018 alone the Institution realised about N1.2 billion as IGR .
“Unfortunately the institution spends without recourse to what it being budgeted for. It is supposed to pay to the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government.
“That is a very serious aberration and it requires government to look into and we will make our report on that to see how we can make them understand the need to fall in line with government’s policy which is having an MTEF and then budgeting properly for their needs and executing the project as and when due.
“Government is trying to see that you do not have abandoned projects or project not being funded.
Abdullahi Yusuf said the institution had all the required documents for the project from start to the level of project implementation.
He, however, said most of the relevant officials who should provide the documents were not around to provide them at the time of visit of the team.
Yusuf confirmed that the institution generated about N1.2 billion IGR in 2018, but argued that the institution was allowed to spend up to 100 per cent revenue generated from Tender and Auction Sales.
“We are also allowed to spend 75 per cent of rent on government property, while 25 per cent be paid into the Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Account.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the exercise was part of the commission’s 2018 physical verification of selected Federal Government capital projects across the six geo-political zones of the country.
The commission said the essence of the exercise was to verify the actual existence of such projects as well as monitor the progress of the work done so far to ensure that there is value for money released for the projects.
It said the verification was in tune with the next level agenda of the current administration in the area of prudence, accountability and transparency in the efforts to ensure that projects embarked on met the need of the people.
According to the commission, the exercise will also ensure that projects that needed funding in line with the completion targets were done to reduce approvals for new capital projects for MDAs. (NAN)