The House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism on Thursday resolved to investigate the alleged deduction of N1.1 billion or 33 percent of budgetary allocation for the culture and tourism sector in the 2021 budget.
The resolution followed a submission by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, during the defence of the ministry 2022 budget in Abuja.
The minister told the lawmakers he was not happy with the parliament for chopping off 33 percent of the budget component earmarked for the culture and tourism sector.
He said: “I am not very happy with the National Assembly, with due respect sir; because a whopping 33 percent of my budget was chopped off.
“I proposed N3billion and they took N1.1 billion out of it and by that, I was paralysed completely, there is nothing I could do.
“The National Assembly is like the Supreme Court, once they give the verdict, there is no other court to appeal to. So, I am extremely distressed, I complained that the proposal was small, the National Assembly made it even worse.”
He said but for God’s grace and for the fact that the ministry went outside budgetary provisions to source funds, nothing would have been achieved in the area of culture and tourism in 2021.
Mohamed said N4.49 billion was allocated for personnel cost, adding that from January to September, the sum of N2.83 billion was released to the ministry.
He added that N9.47 million was earmarked for overhead cost but N6.38 million or 67 percent had so far been released.
The minister added: “The sum of N788.35 million was budgeted for capital expenditure and N435 million had so far been released. This represented 55 percent of the total budgetary allocation to the ministry.
“For 2022 operations, a total of N7.84 billion was proposed out of which N3.90 billion is for personnel cost.
“The sum of N900 million is for overhead cost and N772 million for capital expenditure. The capital expenditure common to information and culture sector of the ministry is N645.7 million.”
The Chairman of the committee, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, said the 2021 budget did not leave the committee with anything more than 5 percent alteration.
He said there are benchmarks for the movement of funds within the budget, adding that the committee adhered to the systems, procedures, and guidelines set by the parliament.
The chairman said: “After this budget defence, I will have to set up a small committee to look at the budget for 2021 because the minister alleged that N1.1 billion which represented 33 percent was taken off the budget.
“The committee will look into every segment of the budget, every line item in the 2021 budget, especially those that are related to culture and tourism in the budget so that we are on the same page.”