Budget padding allegation senseless, says finance minister


Minister of Finance, Zainab AhmedThe Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Tuesday, said allegations of budget padding of projects and allocations in the 2023 Appropriation Bill made no sense.

She stated this during her presentation before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, had while appearing before the Senate Committee on Special Duties on November 21, 2022, for budget defence, blamed the finance ministry for adding N206bn to the ministry’s budget.

Farouq had claimed that the ministry requested some projects for the North East Development Commission and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 budget, which were not released, but was surprised to see an inflated amount in the 2023 budget of the ministry

Consequently, the House invited the finance minister to respond to six queries concerning budgets of various ministries, departments and agencies.

The issues were concerning the National Social Safety Nets Project –allocated N206,242,395,000 under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; refurbishment and procurement of Harris RF-5/7800 Military Communication Equipment at the cost of N8,600,000,000, and the Safe Schools Initiative allocated N2,250,000,000, both under the Ministry of Defence.

Another is on the Second Africa Higher Education Centres of Excellence for Development Impact Project, a project coded ERGP30180290, to be financed by the World Bank, domiciled under the Federal Ministry of Education, for a loan of $30m (equivalence of N12,304,500,000 at an exchange rate of N410.15 to a dollar).

In her presentation, Ahmed said, “The 2023 budget proposal has been prepared with the utmost sincerity of purpose and in line with established regulations and procedures. Over the past week, there has been a lot of misinformation in the media regarding certain provisions in the 2023 budget totalling N423.8bn. The expenditures mostly relate to provisions for multilateral and bilateral loan-funded projects.

“It is instructive that all these projects, now the subject of controversy, were included in the budgets of these MDAs, which were transmitted to the supervising ministers for their review and feedback on October 4, 2022, before the presentation to both the FEC and NASS. Until these recent controversies, none of the concerned MDAs raised any issues on the projects with the FMFBNP.”

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