Akabueze: No Padding in 2017 Budget, Explains Repetition in Line Items

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Infrastructure devt will drive economic growth, says Adeosun
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The Director-General the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, has declared that there was no padding in the 2017 budget proposals.
He explained that repetitions in line items in the budget were occasioned by non-funding of such items in previous appropriations.

Akabueze, who provided the explanations in Abuja yesterday, spoke against the backdrop of some contentious issues in the budget proposals, which had drawn criticisms from some stakeholders.

The Ministry of Budget and National Planning had last Tuesday responded to one of the issues on the alleged N250 million gate-house for the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, saying there was no such provision.

Explaining the repetitions yesterday, Akabueze said: “It is not a secret that for a long time now, the federal government 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’ (Ministries Departments and Agencies) 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, ” he said.

On the budget for the State House kitchen utensils, he stated: “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,” said.
According to him, the federal government had failed to fully fund the overhead component of the recurrent budget on recent years, adding that personnel is prioritised while 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,” stressing that there was no case of padding in 2017.
The process leading to the preparation of the budget, he said was very transparent and advised members of the public accusing government officials to seek clarifications with a view to have greater insight rather arriving at hasty and wrongs conclusions.

Items with varying prices from different MDAs, he added, 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.
Prices of items, he stressed, had taken a sharp rise since last year, noting that the different prices on items would not make any difference since the same pricing template would be used for approval.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said infrastructure development will play a fundamental role in unlocking Nigeria’s economic potential, laying a foundation for economic competitiveness and long-term future growth.

Adesoun, who spoke at the United Capital launch of its Eurobond and Wealth for Women Funds, stated that investment in critical infrastructure across the country would unlock job and wealth creation and strengthen economic development across all states in Nigeria.

Other speakers represented at the event included: Tony O. Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Toyin Saraki, wife of the Senate President, and Mrs. Bisi Fayemi, President, African Women’s Development Fund.
Speaking on the outlook for the Nigerian economy, the minister noted that the government is committed to increasing capital spend on critical infrastructure across key areas; power, rail, roads and water which will underpin growth in priority sectors especially agriculture and agro-allied, solid minerals, manufacturing, and power.