2021 Budget: N’Assembly, Others to Provide Periodic Expenditure Reports

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* FG gives August 28 deadline for MDAs to submit budget proposals

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

Following the increased demand for transparency, the federal government has declared that the National Assembly, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Judicial Council (NJC), and other beneficiaries of statutory transfers will be required to provide periodic reports of the allocation and expenditure of their funds to the Budget Office of the Federation (BoF) from 2021.

This is coming as the N10.81 trillion revised 2020 Budget, effective end of May 2020, posted a N2.35 trillion deficit or 51.01 per cent of the N5.365 trillion budgeted deficit for the full year.

Apart from the National Assembly, NJC and INEC, other beneficiaries of Statutory Transfers include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Public Complaints Commission (PCC), North East Development Commission (NEDC), and Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

Government’s new position on Statutory Transfers is contained in the FGN 2021 Budget Circular issued by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.

The budget circular sets out the requirements and instructions, which must be satisfied and followed in the preparation of the 2021 federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) Budget proposal

Dated August 7, 2020, the circular with reference number ‘HMFBNP/2000/EXP/S.800/1/3/35’, which was obtained by THISDAY stated that “in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act (2007), all beneficiaries of statutory transfers will be required to provide the BOF periodic reports of the allocation and expenditure of the funds received.”

Government’s decision to scrutinise the finances of agencies benefitting from statutory transfers in the next fiscal year may not only have been inspired by increasing public demand for transparency and probity in public finance management, but prompted by a dwindling revenue profile.

In particular, annual allocations to the National Assembly have over the years engendered intense public debate for lacking in openness.

The recently unveiled 2021-2023 Medium Term Fiscal Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) provides N481.41 billion as statutory transfers.

The minister noted that the preparation of the 2021 budget estimates for MDAs should take into consideration the policies/strategies contained in the 2021-2023 MTEF/FSP, adding that the annual budget shall be prepared using the Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) approach, and in line with the government’s policy thrust, as articulated in the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) as well as other relevant circulars.

In line with the ZBB principle, the minister enjoined each MDA to do a review of their existing project portfolios utilising the Project Assessment Status Template to update records of all ongoing /new projects and programmes.

“MDAs are required to complete and submit schedule of ongoing/new capital projects and programmes using the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF) Capital Project Status Template,” the circular said.

To help in monitoring, evaluation and tracking of projects, the minister also told the MDAs that it is now a requirement to provide the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates of the location of all projects to be included in the 2021 budget.

“This will aid geo-tagging of the projects and facilitate deployment of technology in monitoring and evaluation.”

MDAs were also warned not to provide for recurrent expenditure in their capital budget as a way of subverting the recurrent expenditure ceilings while the Budget Office shall reallocate any such provisions to capital projects within/outside the MDA as it deems appropriate.

On projects funded by multilateral/bilateral loans, and in line with government’s efforts to track donor funds, the minister also directed MDAs to capture all programmed aid/grants, as well as the proposed expenditure of all such aids/grants (in cash and in kind) and submitted separately to the International Cooperation Department of the Federal Ministry of Finance , Budget and National Planning for authentication before the MDA’s budget is finalised.