The Budget Office of the Federation has debunked claims that the 2018 budget has not been passed because some details required for its passage were not submitted.
Ben Akabueze, Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, said in a statement Sunday that media reports suggesting that the FGN 2018 Budget was submitted to the National Assembly without details for some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were inaccurate.
The National Assembly recently criticised the MDAs for delaying the passage of the budget due to their Ill-preparedness to attend scheduled meetings and provide relevant information needed by the lawmakers to carry out their job of scrutinising the proposals.
However, Mr. Akabueze said that on November 7, 2017 when President Muhammadu Buhari laid before the National Assembly (NASS) the Executive budget proposals for 2018 , it had “all the usual details required by the National Assembly to process the budget.”
These details, the statement said, included that of the budgets of all federal MDAs based on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) budget templates.
It noted that 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.
“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 (NASS) with despatch,” the statement said.
“To the best of our knowledge, this directive has been complied with. Should any committees of NASS still experience any issues with attendance of any MDA, the Minister of Budget & National Planning has indicated that he is available to liaise with the particular MDA to ensure full cooperation with NASS by the relevant MDA.”
On complaints about additional information with respect to the budgets of Government Owned Agencies (GOEs), Mr. Akabueze said the issues are being addressed.
He however pointed out that the FGN 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 “FGN Main Budget.”
“It will be recalled that 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.
“It directed these 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.
“Whilst 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 Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly (NASS) on 7th November, 2017.”
The statement, however, noted that as is sometimes the case, the respective committees of the NASS which oversight the GOEs may require them to provide additional details to support their budget proposals.
Mr. Akabueze said the Budget Office had intervened directly with the affected GOEs to obtain the details in the format requested by the Senate, adding that most of them have since complied with the Senate’s requirement.
“Whilst any delay in providing these additional details by the GOEs does not affect the early passage of the FGN budget, the Budget Office is following up to ensure that every GOE complies with the directives of the Senate,” the statement said.