By Kemi Yesufu
Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs, Rep. Adewunmi Onanuga , has said the budgetary allocation to the National Centre for Women Development, Abuja in the last three years is grossly inadequate.
She stated that the steady decline in the capital allocation for the Centre in the last three budget circles was worrisome, demanded an explanation from the Director-General of the Centre, Mrs. Mary Ekpere-Eta on the issue.
Speaking at the 2020 budget defense session of the Centre, held at the National Assembly on Monday, Onanuga stressed that it was disappointing that even with the good performance of the agency in the area of training for women and empowerment programmes, its capital budget has seen gradual reduction from the 2017 to the 2020 budget.
Onanuga said: “I am asking you questions on your (budget) envelop in order to juxtapose what happened from 2017 to 2019 in terms of budgetary allocation to the Centre, where there was a particular figure for a few years. But it has now dropped drastically.
“We would like to know why the drop in your allocation despite the how your agency implemented empowerment programmes for women mostly those in the grassroots. When you look at the level of implementation of Zonal Intervention Programmes (ZIPs) in 2017 and 2018 as contained in what you have presented to us, I see the need to ask , aside from the probability of austerity measures, inflation or the fact that we were in a recession, why your allocation has reduced”.
Also speaking at the hearing, Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Vincent Ofumelu and another member of the Committee, Hon. Bahsiru Daudu said the Centre must also improve on its revenue generation drive as the figures for its budget were inadequate. They also stressed the need to reduce Overhead and Recurrent expenditure through the deployment of ICT and use of alternative energy.
“The total money we are seeing as your budget for 2020 is obviously not enough. So, you must come up with plans to expand funding for your programmes and budget, especially from within”, Ofumelu said.
Earlier in her presentation Ekpere-Eta told the Committee that the agency submitted a budget proposal of N6.5 billion for capital expenditure, the Budget Office returned a N200 million allocation to the documents sent to the National Assembly.
She said the allocation would leave the agency in the limbo, even as she pleaded for the intervention of the National Assembly.
Speaking on the 2018 budget performance she said the Centre got a N2.026 Billion as allocation for capital expenditure, with a release of N1.039 Billion. Giving a breakdown she said N408 million was allocated for personnel costs, N438 million for Zonal Intervention Projects, N194 million for Overhead, while N30 million was from internally generated revenue.