Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Pantami

Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Pantami, says Information and Communication Technology (ICT) contributed 17.83 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2020.

He stated this while presenting the ministry’s 2021 budget proposal and the 2020 budget performance before the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Communications and ICT.

Dr Isa Ali Pantami told the committee that the contribution was an increase from 13% recorded within the same period in 2019 by the ministry.

However, members of the joint committee questioned the sharp increase of N21.9 billion in the 2021 budget proposal of the ministry above the 2020 budget.

They also asked the minister to explain why monies released to the Ministry in the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2020 was higher than the actual approval given to the Ministry.

The lawmakers also asked the Minister why the Ministry proposed about 76 new projects in the 2021 budget when several projects of the Ministry are still ongoing.

The Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Mr Akeem Adeyemi specifically said the minister should explain the disparities between what was approved for the Ministry in the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2020 and what was released with the releases higher than what was approved.

He also questioned the utilisation of the funds released to the Ministry for the implementation of a number of projects, which are still either awaiting BPP approval or the procurement process is ongoing.

Responding, the Minister said, the variation and why the amount is higher than the previous year, is to accommodate the proposal of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

SALIHU TSIBIRI