Two months to year’s end, capital votes report still unavailable
Barely two months to the end of the 2016 fiscal year, how the Federal Government expended nearly N4 trillion remains unclear. Of the sum, more than N700 billion is believed to have been released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). As at yesterday, neither the first nor second quarterly budgetary implementation reports, were available.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, recently revealed that at the end of September, the sum of N3.9 trillion out of N6.1 trillion budgeted for the year had been released.
Adeosun made the revelation through the Director Special Projects in the ministry, Mohammed Dikwa, at a stakeholders’ forum on reducing the cost of governance in Abuja. She said that of the amount released, 18 per cent was for capital expenditure, while 82 per cent was for recurrent.
Checks at the Budget and National Planning Ministry for clues on the deployment of particularly the capital votes were unsuccessful. Highly placed officials, who asked not to be identified, said the finance ministry was in a better position to say which MDAs had been recipients of money, and what their projects were.
One official said: “Capital releases are handled by the Minster of Finance. MDAs pass their proposals through us, and after evaluation and satisfaction with them, we give the go ahead to the Ministry of Finance to release funds. So, it is the ministry that is in custody of records on released funds.
“We monitor, evaluate and approve disbursements based on appropriation and requests from the MDAs. Even if we have copies of those approvals, we are not the appropriate authority to give out information on releases. What the MDAs have, as overall capital allocation in the 2016 budget, are indicated in the budget analysis, which can either be found in the strategy documents distributed much earlier or on the Budget Office website. The respective ministries can also tell you the extent to which they have gone on individual projects they carried out.”
Adeosun could not return inquiries sent to her on the matter. The Director of Information in the ministry, Salisu Na’Nna Dambatta, told The Guardian: “The information you are seeking is not what I can stand here and supply, except you want me to talk to you on assumption, which professionally is not correct. Therefore, give us time, till next week (this week), to piece together information from the necessary agencies and from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.”
At signing into law of the 2016 Appropriation Act in May, the Budget and National Planning Ministry spoke of how it would monitor and evaluate the performance of releases, to ensure quality outcome.
The absence of any single quarter report of implementation, however, raises the question whether there has been any form of monitoring at all.
The Minister of State in the Budget and National Planning Ministry, Hadiza Abdullahi, who spoke on ‘Modalities for Effective Tracking of 2016 Budget’, had promised: “The ministry will actively monitor and evaluate the implementation of projects in respect of which disbursements had been made.”