National Assembly kicks as NCC raises wage bill by N12bn

The National Assembly has queried the Nigerian Communications Commission over a sharp increase in its proposed wage bill between for 2021. The parliament also criticised the hike in the financial provision for consultancy services.

While the sum of N16.85bn was approved for NCC to pay salaries and allowances in the 2020 fiscal year, the commission proposed N29.19bn for 2021.

The parliament also demanded explanation on the N1bn proposed for consultancy services in 2021, as against the N394.33m approved in the 2020 Appropriation Act.

Members of the joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Telecommunications raised the issue at a budget hearing in Abuja on Monday, following a presentation by the Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta.

Dambatta, who asked the Director of Finance and Administration to provide details of the 2020 budget performance for the year under review, said as of November 20, 2020, only N79.66bn had been released out of a total budget of N140.38bn.

He said, “For the expenditures, total recurrent expenditure that was budgeted was N39.29bn and what was spent was N28.5bn. Under the capital projects, the total capital expenditure budget was N8.13bn and the actual, as at 30th November, was N1.43bn.

“For the special project, the total budget was N20.86bn and what has been spent so far is N13.65bn.

“For total capital projects, the budget was N28.9bn and what was spent was N1.4bn. Transfer to USPF, N7.5bn was projected and N5.58bn was spent. For transfer to Federal Government of Nigeria, N64.21bn was budgeted and N35.7bn was remitted.”

One of the aggrieved lawmakers, however, demanded explanation on the wide variance between the proposed N29.19bn for salaries and wages in 2021 and the N16.85bn approved for 2020 in relations to the 300 workers recruited by the commission.

Another lawmaker, Isiaka Ayokunle, also expressed concern over the difference between the projected revenue and expenditure.

He said, “A lot of things are shredded in secrecy here. Are we really breaking even here?”

Senator Emmanuel Orker-Jev, who expressed concern over the recruitment of the 300 workers, stated that the NCC must provide its nominal rolls for 2019 and 2020 to determine the actual number of employees recruited and level of adherence to federal character policy.

Dambatta, as part of his responses, assured the lawmakers that the nominal rolls would be made available to the committee as requested.

Chairman of the House Committee on Telecommunications, Akeem Adeyemi, earlier in his remarks, stated that “legislative approval to budget proposal is a cardinal ingredient of democratic practice.” According to him, it provides a window of checks on the expenditure profile of the Executive.

Adeyemi, later in his ruling, directed the NCC management to provide the nominal roll, adding that the committee would call for interactive session sometime next year, with a view to addressing some of the concerns raised.

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