The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs on Thursday in Abuja presented a budget of N35.5 billion to the House of Representatives for its operations in 2017.

In the proposal presented to the House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, the Minister, Mr Uguru Usani, said N1.1billion was earmarked for personnel cost.

He said that N727 million was allocated for overhead cost, while N33.7 billion was for capital projects.

According to him, emphasis are being placed on the ongoing projects and introduction of vital ones in the areas of road construction, housing, skill acquisition, electrification, water supply, dredging and jetties.

He listed other areas of priority to include: channelization, erosion control, youth empowerment, baseline survey of oil and gas communities and agriculture.

The minister said that in the 2016 budget, N19.4 billion and N727.2 million was appropriated to the ministry for capital and overhead expenditures respectively.

According to him, the sum of N8.1 billion, which represents 42 per cent of the capital appropriation was released to the ministry and N53 million for overhead.

He identified challenges facing budget performance in the ministry to include: gross inadequate allocation and dwindling of fund releases.

As a result, the minister said that the outstanding liabilities of the ministry amounts to N28 billion.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Essien Ayi (Cross River-PDP) said that problem of the nation was not budgeting process, but its implementation.

He said that the Niger Delta region remains a special area that contributes the needed resources for the sustenance of the nation’s economy.

The lawmaker said it was disheartening to note that so much had been allocated to the area, but there is very little to show for it.

He urged the leadership of the ministry to concentrate on projects that could be funded and ensure early completion.

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