* Holds First FEC Meeting in 2016*
* As New Head of Service Takes Oath of Office*
*Buhari Hosts First 2016 Council of State Meeting Thursday*
Tony Ailemen, Abuja
Federal Government has begun review of plans to actualize the 2016 a budget of Change even as it reiterated that it has no plans to withdraw the 2016 Budget from the National Assembly.
Government unveiled plans for the successful implementation of the budget while briefing State House Correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting which is the first in 2016 was entirely devoted to fine tuning operational modalities for actualizing the proposed N6 Trillion budget for 2016 which has been widely described as ambitious by financial experts including the International Monetary Fund, IMF.
Ministers of Finance and Information and Culture, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and Alhaji Lai Mohammed, respectively took time to provide details of deliberations at FEC, which dealt mainly with checking leakages in the nation’s finances and modalities for check them.
They revealed that discussions cantered around creating initiative by the current administration to plug revenue leakages in MDAs that generate revenue.
“The presentation to FEC was to remind ministers who supervise these revenue-generating boards of their responsibilities under the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Let me remind you that under FRA, these boards and corporations that generate revenue are supposed to generate and 80 percent of the operating surplus is to be credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, but we have discovered that many agencies have never credited anything and never generated any operating surplus including some whose salaries, overheads, capital is paid by the Federal Government”
The agencies according to Finance Minister, generates revenue which they spend without any form of control.
“So one of the big initiatives and changes of this administration is to bring all those agencies into line, to insist that they must submit a budget, that, that budget must be subject to approval and they must operate within that budget so that the surplus that is meant to come to the federal government can be seen to be used as appropriate”
“So for clarification, let me just explain that in economies that are non-oil economies, these are the revenues of government, it was because we had oil in the past, that nobody has ever really looked at MDAs and even NCC.”
“So many boards of government, in fact they are in their hundreds, were issued circular in December requesting that they send us their budget and what we discussed today was the responsibility of the ministers to ensure that whether those agencies have boards or not, those budgets are prepared that the Ministry of Finance is going to sit down with the supervising ministers and with the boards concerned where necessary to go through their budgets and make sure that they are reasonable, that the costs are not inflated.”
The Minister disclosed that government will soon dispatch auditors to these agencies to ascertain the true expenditure profile in MDAs.
“We also discussed that in some cases, because some agencies have a track record and history of making sure that every Naira they earned is spent, that we will go in and audit agencies under Section 107 (8) of the Financial Regulations. The Accountant-General, who is under the Ministry of Finance has the powers to go in and make inquiries about how public money is spent, so we will be sending in auditors to some agencies where we believe that their cost is simply excessive and not in keeping with our expectations”
“The expected outcome of this is that the internally generated revenue (IGR) which new budget is banking on will actually become a reality. So that was the principal discussion and everybody in the cabinet endorsed the initiative and are in fully support of it”
“So, these revenues cannot continue to leak as they have done in the past. We are going to make every Naira counts and in order to make every Naira count, we have to know how much is coming in and you control how it goes out. All the ministers concerned agreed that enough is enough and they even identified boards and agencies under them where they know that revenue is being diverted”
Information and Culture Minister while also speaking on the alleged withdrawal of the 2016 budget, described the information as false.
According to him, ” When somebody from the Daily Trust called me, I told him categorically that there is nothing like that.
” Let me just speak to you about the budget process. You know the budget is presented to the NASS and then there is what we call an interactive budget approval process and you know the agencies will still go and defend their budget at the NASS.”
“So ordinarily in budget processes any where in the world they can be amendments to the budgets arising from that interactive process, which is normal. But let me make it very clear the budget is not being withdrawn or replaced, the budget has been presented and will go through normal process whereby MDAs defend their budgets”
“It is possible in the process of that, because as you know the legislature is not a rubber stamp, their job is to scrutinize the budget and to approve that budget. So there may be some changes that occur as a result of that interactive process, but that process is normal everywhere in the world where a budget is presented. So I think it us important to make that clarification”
The new Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita Wednesday morning took oath of office as the third woman Head of Civil Service of the Federation, (HoCSF).
The swearing-in ceremony which preceded the FEC meeting took place at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja and was presided over by President Buhari.
Recall that Oyo-Ita was appointed Acting Head of Service on October 21 last year, sequel to the retirement of Mr. Danladi Kifasi.
The Union also gathered yesterday that the President will today ( Thursday ) host past Nigerian Heads of State and Government in a meeting of the Council of State also at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.