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The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, Thursday said less than half of the 2019 budget will be implemented this year.

He said the lack of “aggressive implementation of the 2019 budget meant that 60 per cent of the other (2019) budget will be rolled into the 2020 budget.”

The newly inaugurated minister said this at his inaugural meeting with representatives of various departments and agencies of the labour ministry on Thursday in Abuja.

PREMIUM TIMES is yet to verify his claim.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assigned portfolios to the 43 newly inaugurated ministers about a month after they were appointed.

In appointing his new cabinet in July, the president retained Babatunde Fashola, Chris Ngige and 12 others who served in the old cabinet while 18 others were not reappointed.

Ngige’ remarks

Mr Ngige said the executive arm of government “would always find it difficult to implement the budget if it suspected that it had been tampered with during presentation at the National Assembly.”

“The 2019 budget has not been aggressively executed and 60 per cent of it will have to be rolled into the 2020 budget,” he said. “We knew this during the presidential retreat that was organised for ministers-designate at the Presidential Villa.”

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He said the ministry would begin preparing its 2020 budget after the lawmakers’ earlier assurance that if proposals are submitted, it would work towards a December deadline.

He also warned that any department under the ministry found guilty of colluding with NASS members to pad its budget “would be dealt with.”

“We have been told to submit our budget to the National Assembly in September so that we can get it back by December. Senate President Ahmed Lawan is a man of his words that we can work with.

“There is budget padding because parastatals invited NASS members (during its planning) and this must stop henceforth. Any parastatal that does that will be sanctioned. We must live according to our means.

“Once the budget stays too long at the NASS, it will be difficult for the executive arm to execute it because it will suspect that the figures had been tampered with,” he said.

Mr Ngige said the ministry would monitor job losses with the aim to stem the tide and provide more jobs.

“We don’t employ here at the ministry but it is our duty to monitor employment in all ministries,” he said. “We have to monitor job losses and stem the tide through proactive action. We did it in the bank and oil sectors so we will consolidate on our goals.”

The minister expressed optimism that despite the disagreement he had with the Nigeria Labour Congress at the end of his first term in office, he was ready to work with all labour unions “after their differences were resolved.”

Mr Ngige and the NLC had been engaged in a war of words after the minister opposed the inauguration of Frank Kokori as the head of a government agency, NSITF.

Mr Kokori, a retired labour leader, was initially appointed as board chairman of the agency but was later redeployed after Mr Ngige’s actions.

The minister had accused the NLC of corruption while the labour union threatened to expose him to international ridicule.

Although the NLC opposed the reappointment of Mr Ngige as labour minister, he was re-appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Original Article