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Minister of Finance refutes budget padding allegation

The minister says the funds were wrongly captured in the budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly.

Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning. (Punch)
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Recently, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management alleged that N206,242,395,000 found its way into its budget without its knowledge.

However, a statement by the Special Adviser to the minister on Media and Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, stated that the funds in question were wrongly captured in the budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly.

The statement reads: “The project so referred to is domiciled in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development headquarters. The World Bank is the funding source for the National Social Safety Net-Scale Up project to the tune of $473,500,000 which is equivalent to N206,242,395,000, using the N435.57/USD exchange rate.

“The project was correctly described in the submission from the International Economic Relations Department (IERD) for the 2023 budget. But, unfortunately, a wrong code was selected from the drop-down menu which resulted in a wrong description of the project which resulted in it being captured as ‘Purchase of Security Equipment’ in the Government Integrated Financial Management Information (GIFMIS) Budget Preparation System (BPS).

“Please, note that the BPS has a limited range of encoded programme/project descriptions. Also note that the multilateral loans are usually project-tied, and have specific codes in the budget system. The multilateral loans are different from the envelopes usually given to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

“The funds are drawn by the beneficiary ministries under the terms of the agreements, and the financial institutions disburse directly to service providers.

“There were ample opportunities to review details for observations by ministries and corrections made by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF)”.

The statement further said the proposed 2023 budget for each ministry was circulated for review and feedback before the Federal Executive Council (FEC) reviewed it and submitted it to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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