Why we can’t assess performance of national budget – AGF

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By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA —ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL of the Federation, AGF, Ahmed Idris, has said the secrecy embedded in the National Assembly’s budget was part of reasons his office could not determine the actual capital performance of national budget.

Ahmed Idris

But he said the general performance of his office budget for 2016, taking into cognizance the three components of the appropriation, stood at 89.5 percent.

Idris’ statement was in response to the request by the Senate Committee on Finance that he should provide it with the overall capital performance of national budget for the 2016 fiscal year.

It was during the committee’s budget defence with the Office of the Accountant-General.

The request by the committee was put forward to Idris by its chairman, Senator John Enoh, who said: “Let’s take the liberty of over-sighting you and request that if you can, let’s have the record of the total capital performance or delivery of the 2016 budget not just of your office but all others.”

But responding, the AGF said: “ Distinguished, let me also say that all these performances we are talking about, in terms of capital performance or delivery, do not include capital component of statutory organisations.

“Some of them, we don’t have their performances. For instance, I don’t have the capital performance of the National Assembly budget but I know how much I release every month. So, it is the management that decides their capital. With this, it’s difficult to know the overall capital performance of national budget.“

The committee, which had earlier uncovered disproportionate release of funds to ministries and agencies of government in the 2016 appropriation, demanded explanation for such action.

The committee members alleged that while overhead allocations to the Office of Accountant-General were done up to September, leaving October, November and December outstanding, allocations to other ministries and agencies were last done in August.

Besides, they alleged that while the 2016 budget performance of the Office of the Accountant-General stood at 72.2 percent, that of other agencies were between 60 and 70 percent, a development for which they demanded explanation.

Funding challenge

Responding, Mr Idris explained that there was obvious funding challenge in terms of the 2016 budget, even as he assured that there was still hope of possible release of money for appropriation in the 2016 fiscal year.

“We have not lost hope of additional release in terms of 2016. We have obvious funding challenge; they (funds) are not coming as they’re supposed to come,”he said.

He explained further that the total appropriation for the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation was N3.852 billion, made up of N3.015 billion for personnel cost; N658.866 million for overhead and N178.062 million for capital cost.

“For overhead, we were funded 72.27 percent and utilization is almost 100 percent ;for capital, we were funded 30 percent and we utilized what was given.

‘’In actual sense, there’s even a demand in 2017 for some funding to address the gap in terms of delivery by our contractors for the different capital projects that we are undertaking in addition to our proposal for 2017.

“ So in summary, our performance generally for 2016 is 89.5, taking into cognizance all the three components of the appropriation, “he said.

Speaking on the 2017 budget proposal, the Accountant-General told the Senator John Enoh-led Committee on Finance that about N800 million was required this year to take care of capital cost in his office.

Similarly,the Chairman of Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Victor Muruako, said about N444 million was needed by the commission for its overhead, personnel, recurrent and capital expenditures in the ongoing year.

The Accountant-General of the Federation particularly said the sum of N792, 271,817.00 was what his office required to take care of its needs in the 2017 fiscal year.

Giving a breakdown of the budget proposal, he said the sum of N78,420,000.00 would be used for the rehabilitation and repair of Treasury House; N55,062,500.00 for the acquisition of non-tangible assets, while N339,589,600.00 was needed for the rehabilitation of the Federal Treasury Academy, Orozo.

Also, continuous audit   (Fixed Assets Acquisition) , according to the Accountant-General, will cost N60,000,000.00, while efficiency(Capital cost of programme) would cost N150,000,000.00.

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