The Nigerian Communications Commission has been questioned by the National Assembly over a sharp increase in its proposed wage bill for 2021.
The Assembly faulted the hike in the financial provision for consultancy services.
In 2020 fiscal year, the sum of N16.85bn was approved for NCC to pay salaries and allowances but in 2021, the commission proposed N29.19bn.
The parliament demanded explanation on the N1bn proposed for consultancy services in 2021, as against the N394.33m approved in the 2020 Appropriation Act.
The explanation was requested by the members of the joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Committees on Telecommunications at a budget hearing in Abuja on Monday, following a presentation by the Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta.
Dambatta explained that as of November 20, 2020, only N79.66bn had been released out of a total budget of N140.38bn.
He then asked the Director of Finance and Administration to provide details of the 2020 budget performance for the year under review.
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 also demanded clarification on the wide variation 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 stressed on the difference between the estimated revenue and expenditure.
He said, “A lot of things are shredded in secrecy here. Are we really breaking even here?”