Monday, January 20, 2014

NASS: A look at the bloated tourism allocation

As the National Assembly resumes sitting next week, one of the key issues the legislators are expected to address  is the consideration and passage of the budget proposal for 2014 fiscal year sent to them by President Goodluck Jonathan through the Co-coordinating Minister for Economy, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
Specifically, Twenty one billion, four hundred and twenty nine million, thirty six thousand and three hundred and fifty eight thousand naira (N21,429,036,358) was proposed for   the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation which has a total allocation
Out of this, fourteen billion four hundred eighty million six hundred forty-six thousand five hundred fifty-one naira (N14,480,646,551)  was allocated for personnel , seventeen billion seven hundred twenty million ninety-five thousand three hundred sixnaira (N17,720,095,306) for total recurrent and three billion seven hundred eight million nine hundred forty-one thousand fifty-two naira (N3,708,941,052) for total capital.
Of special interest is the allocation for the implementation of the tourism master plan which is put at three hundred thirty-one million eight hundred thirty-eight thousand two hundred forty-eight (, 838,248).
This is so as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Edem Duke, last year at the presentation of   Fascinating Nigeria brand in Lagos, said that the master plan which was developed and launched about seven or eight years ago has gone slightly obsolete.
This prompted the chairman of the Tourism master Plan committee, Dr. Franklin Adejuwon, to say then that it was unfortunate that   the minister   who worked with the committee then could say that the document had become obsolete
According to Dr. Adejuwon then, “Nigerian Tourism master Plan which was initiated during Obasanjo administration and established   with the support of the UNDP-UNWTO has 15 years   lasting plan implementation.
“I am a bit disappointed however by my avowed Minister of Tourism who worked   very hard with me at the Cross River end to establish this important road map   now saying   it is obsolete. I least   expected   he would be making such negative remarks when till the present budget (2013)  the ministry has been drawing down on the master plan from government purse.   Is there any explanation for this contradiction?” he asked.
Though, there was no reaction to the question of drawing down on the master plan from the budget yearly by the ministry, the same ministry, under the watchful eyes of Edem Duke, has put three hundred thirty-one million eight hundred thirty-eight thousand two hundred forty-eight (, 331,838,248) for the implementation of the master plan in this year’s budget.
Apart from this, the inclusion of Twenty million naira (N20,000,000) for Argungun fishing festival  calls for special scrutiny as the festival has not held in the last five years. The Ministry holds the country explanation on this as the same amount is allocated to Calabar Carnival that has become a brand on its own.
Four million nine hundred fifty-three thousand six hundred fifty-one naira (N4,953,651) was also set aside for sporting equipment in the ministry of Culture, Tourism and national Orientation.