By Ben Akabueze, Director General, Budget Office of the Federation.
The attention of the Budget Office of the Federation has been drawn to media reports suggesting that the FGN 2018 Budget was submitted to the National Assembly without details for some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). We have also received enquiries along same lines from concerned members of the public. It has therefore become necessary to clarify the facts regarding this matter.
1. Mr. President submitted the budget with all the usual details required by NASS to process the Budget.
We would like to emphasize, for the avoidance of doubt, that on 7th November, 2017 President Muhammadu Buhari, as constitutionally stipulated, laid before the National Assembly (NASS) the Executive budget proposals for 2018 with all the usual details required by the National Assembly to process the budget. This included the details of the budgets of all federal MDAs based on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) budget templates.
2. Ministers and Heads of Agencies have made themselves available to explain and defend the Budget.
In the course of its review of the budget proposals the NASS 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. 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.
3. Complaints about additional information with respect to the budgets of Government Owned Agencies (GOEs) are being addressed.
On a related issue we would also like to point out, in response to concerns that have been raised by the public, 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. However, 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. Following this observation by the Senate, the Budget Office intervened directly with the affected GOEs to obtain the details in the format requested by the Senate. 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.
This statement is issued to clarify and respond to numerous queries from interested parties and the general public.