…says no padding in 2017 budget
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief

The Director-General (D-G) of the Budget Office of the of the federal government, Mr. Ben Akabueze, has explained that repetitions of items in the 2017 budget were due to non-funding of such items in previous appropriations.

He spoke at a media briefing to clarify issues in the budget, some of which had attracted sharp criticisms from members of the public, in Abuja ,Thursday.

His words, “It is not a secret that for a long time now, the FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria) has not been able to fully implement its annual budget, especially the capital expenditure component .

“It should be noted that capital budget implementation depends on resource availability. As such MDAs’ budgetary provisions not fully funded in the 2016 Budget will be repeated in the 2017 budget.

“When we sent out the Call Circular, we told them (MDAs) clearly that those items that could not be funded in the previous budget should be re-presented.”

The D-G gave a similar explanation for the multi-million Naira budget for the State House kitchen utensils.

“I believe that the Permanent Secretary has made a public statement about it and even when he appeared before the National Assembly, the fact that though it was in the 2016 budget, it was not funded because it was not classified as a priority. That corroborates what I said earlier. In fact he did say that it was in the budget of 2015 but was not funded, he said”

Mr. Akabueze added that in recent years, the federal government had not been fully funding the Overhead segment of the Recurrent budget.

His words, “Personnel is prioritized but overhead is not being fully funded. So if the overhead of an MDA is not fully released for that year, they may not be able to procure all that they budgeted to implement.”

No padding in 2017

The D-G insisted that there was no padding in the 2017 budget, as according to him, the process was very transparent and asked members of the public accusing government officials to seek clarifications, in order to more gainfully engage on the budget rather arriving at wrongs conclusions..

His words, “I can say without equivocation that that there is no padding in the 2017 budget. I would urged interested members of the society to ask for more constructive engagement”.

He also explained that items with varying prices from different MDAs would be streamlined by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) which has to give the “No Objection Certificate” before every procurement process can be concluded.

He said that prices of items had risen sharply since last year but that the different prices on items would not make any difference since the same pricing template would be used for approval.

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