By Umar Muhammad Puma & Christiana Ekpa
Members of the House of Representatives joint committee on petroleum upstream, downstream and Gas resources yesterday decried poor funding for the ministry of petroleum resources.
The chairman petroleum down stream, Joseph Akinlaja made this known while reacting to the ministry’s 2017 budget of 2 billion naira for capital expenditure said for a ministry as large as petroleum to be given 2 billion for capital expenditure calls for serious concern.
He said something has to be done in order to make the ministry functional in the petroleum sector.
Also speaking on the issue, the chairman, committee on Gas resources, Fredrike Agbedi said that if the ministry is been underfunded, the national assembly needs to act fast.
“If the reason why the ministry of petroleum, a ministry that oversees major sector of our economy is going around begging, because they are underfunded, then we the National Assembly need to come to their aid or else we will suffer as a nation,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the minister of state for Petroleum, Ibe Kachukwu, while presenting the ministry’s budget for 2018 and defending the 2017 budget said the entire ministry’s budget for the year 2018 was 74 billion naira with an increase of 4 billion naira against 70 billion naira for 2017.
“Out of the 74 billion naira proposed budget for 2018, 64 billion is for personnel cost, 1.9 billion would go to parastatals under the ministry, 7 billion would be for recurrent, 2 billion for over head.
Speaking also on the refineries, the minister stated that the ministry expects to conclude the process of privatization in March.
He added that if concluded, the country will begin to produce 1.2 million barrel of oil in a day which will transform the country from been an importer to export of oil.
Speaking on Gas, he further said “a lot of stranded gas is found in the south not getting to the north, adding that the major problem in the gas industry was infrastructure that requires 30 Million dollars.
However, the chairman of the committee on up stream, Victor Nwokolo asked that the ministry give the committees time to study its budget presentation and get back to the minister if need be.