- Says 2018 budget delay not from presidency
By Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, last night said President Muhammadu Buhari submitted the 2018 Appropriation Bill with all the usual details required by National Assembly to process the budget, adding that the delay in passing the 2018 budget was not from the presidency.
Akabueze stated this in a statement he signed in Abuja while reacting to media reports which suggested that the federal government 2018 Budget was submitted to the National Assembly without details for some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
According to him, “The attention of the Budget Office of the Federation has been drawn to media reports suggesting that the federal government 2018 Budget was submitted to the National Assembly without details for some MDAs.
“We have also received enquiries along same lines from concerned members of the public. It has therefore become necessary to clarify the facts regarding this matter. Mr. President submitted the budget with all the usual details required by to process the budget.
“We would like to emphasise, for the avoidance of doubt, that on November 7, 2017 President Buhari, as constitutionally stipulated, laid before the National Assembly the executive budget proposals for 2018 with all the usual details required by the National Assembly to process the budget.’’
Stressing that the details of the budgets of all federal MDAs based on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) budget templates were contained in the budget, the Budget Office added the ministers and heads of agencies had made themselves available to explain and defend the budget.
Akabueze said in the course of its review of the budget proposals the National Assembly normally invites the MDAs to appear before them to defend the president’s budget submissions.
He continued: “Given the seriousness the presidency attaches to getting the 2018 budget passed so it could earnestly focus on achieving the goals set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-20 (ERGP), which formed the basis of the budget, it had directed heads of ministries and extra-ministerial agencies to attend to any requests for meetings/information by the National Assembly with dispatch.
“To the best of our knowledge, this directive has been complied with. Should any committees of National Assembly still experience any issues with attendance of any MDA, the Minister of Budget and National Planning has indicated that he is available to liaise with the particular MDA to ensure full cooperation with National Assembly by the relevant MDA.’’
He added that complaints about additional information with respect to the budgets of Government Owned Agencies (GOEs) are being addressed, saying that the budget is distinct from the budget of Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) and as such any delay in the GOEs providing additional details on their budgets should not affect the early passage of the federal government main budget.
The Senate at its February 14, 2018 sitting had complained that some GOEs had not submitted the details of their 2018 budget in a format acceptable to the Senate, directing the GOEs to submit their 2018 budget details in the format required by the Senate within a week.
“It is important to note that it is the GOEs, and not MDAs, that the Senate complained about. While the budgets of these GOEs are separate and distinct from the main federal government budget, we would like to explain that their budgets were also included, as attachments, in the 2018 budget package presented by President Buhari to the National Assembly on November 7, 2017,’’ Akabueze further explained.
“However, as is sometimes the case, the respective committees of the National Assembly which oversight the GOEs may require them to provide additional details to support their budget proposals.
“Following this observation by the Senate, the Budget Office intervened directly with the affected GOEs to obtain the details in the format requested by the Senate. Most of them have since complied with the Senate’s requirement.’’
The DG further explained that whilst any delay in providing these additional details by the GOEs does not affect the early passage of the federal government budget, the Budget Office is following up to ensure that every GOE complies with the directives of the Senate, stating that the statement was issued to clarify and respond to numerous queries from interested parties and the public.