National Assembly Queries NCC Over Increase in Wage Bill by N12bn

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

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

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

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

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

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.

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Speaking on the 2020 budget performance for the year under review, Dambatta revealed that only N79.66bn had been released as of November 20, 2020 out of a total budget of N140.38bn.

He stated that the 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, Dambatta said the total budget was N20.86bn and what has been spent so far is N13.65bn. While N7.5bn was projected to be transfer to USPF, N5.58bn was spent and budgeted as transfer to Federal Government of Nigeria was N64.21bn but N35.7bn was remitted.

One of the aggrieved lawmakers demanded explanation on the wide variance between the proposed N29.19bn for salaries and wages in 2021 and the N16.85 approved for 2020 in relations to the 300 workers recruited by the commission. Another lawmaker also expressed concern over the difference between the projected revenue and expenditure.

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

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

Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the House Committee on Telecommunications, Akeem Adeyemi stated that legislative approval to budget proposal is a cardinal ingredient of democratic practice because it provides a window of checks on the expenditure profile of the Executive. He therefore 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.