Non-Release of Capital votes stalls N400 million Allowance for overseas scholars

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The delay in the release of the capital votes in the 2015 budget has hampered the disbursement of over N400 million allowances for Nigerian students schooling abroad.

Hindatu Abdulahi,the director of Tertiary Education,  Federal Ministry of Education who is also  the Acting Permanent Secretary revealed that late release of the capital vote has formed a major stumbling block in attending to Nigerian scholars abroad.

 

Nigerian economy ran for three straight quarters ending in June without capital votes to fund critical development projects while recurrent expenditure was sustained by borrowed funds.

She said:”Every year,the Federal Government send the upkeep allowances of Nigerians who are on Federal scholarship outside the country. Every year that amount of money is released to the Federal Scholarship,then the board would now pay it to the central bank and the central bank would now release same according to information from the Federal Ministry of Education to the embassies and the embassies would take the necessary step.

Unfortunately, the Capital release comes in a bit late mostly by April and it is affecting us greatly. That is why we found out that most of the time,there is delay in the upkeep depending on what time we have the release of funds”

She added,”Take note that  the scholarship money,we pay to the scholars is not under our overhead,it is under the capital. We can Only release it when capital allocation are released by the Federal Ministry of Finance”

As at now,we just had a release of 400 million naira,which we are working out with our sister Ministry to ensure the release to Central Bank for onward remittances to the Embassies.

Notably,the Federal Students Scholarship Board is operated under Bilateral Education Agreement,mostly with country which Nigeria has bilateral Education agreement  with.

Although the Acting Permanent Secretary’s assurance is the latest in row, available record shows that from  January till date, none of these allowances have been paid by the Nigerian government, despite repeated appeals and other forms of representations to the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow and the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja.

The last capital release overseen by Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala, immediate past Coordinating minister and minister of finance was N210 billion for the third quarter of 2014, which brought the entire release for last year to N610 billion out of the over N1.2 trillion earmarked for capital expenditure in 2014.

There was none for the last quarter of last year, as well as for first and second quarters of 2015.

2014 was a difficult year for Nigeria’s budget implementation and 2015 appears obviously more challenging, say analysts.

N400 billion was released for the first and second quarter capital expenditure, while about N210 billion was released for the third quarter and no releases for the four quarter of 2014, apart from other releases for programmes like the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P).

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