FG admits errors in 2016 budget, perpetrators face punishment

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Nigeria’s Ministry of Budget and National Planning on Tuesday said the errors in the 2016 Budget were due to lack of technical knowledge of the bureaucracy on the Zero-Based Budgeting System adopted for the first time in the country to put the appropriation plan together.

Charles Dafe, Director of Information, Ministry of National Planning said in a statement that civil servants saddled with the task of preparing the budget for their various ministries, departments and agencies were still grappling with some of the technicalities of the new Zero-Based Budgeting approach which was still new to them.

Dafe recalled that before now, government used the envelope system of budgeting.

This, he said is in contrast to the Zero-Based Budgeting approach, a system of budgeting that reverses the working process of traditional budgeting by ensuring that all expenses must be justified in the new period.

The approach, he said, is different from the envelope system which has been in use by the Federal Government since 2003 and works by providing each MDA with a maximum amount for its capital and recurrent needs for the fiscal year.

Dafe promised that government will continue to improve the competency of the bureaucrats.

“The proposals have received general commendation. However, the details were developed using the Zero-Based Budget and is a new concept to our Budget Officers different from our traditional envelope process.

“The members of staff in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning as well as those handling budget issues in all ministries and extra-ministerial agencies are grappling to master the technicalities in the ZBB template.

“As such therefore, some errors are not unexpected in the changeover to the new ZBB approach. This was the reason the ministry arranged for the proposals to be placed on the website of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to expose them to public scrutiny.”

He also said the ministry would cooperate with the National Assembly to address issues raised in the budget while the government would thoroughly investigate and sanction any one found to have been involved in any fraudulent activity as regards the budget.

According to him, “the ministry has zero tolerance for malfeasance and whenever any wrongdoing is alleged, it will be thoroughly investigated and sanctions will be applied.

“The ministry assures the general public that it will continue to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly to address any issues that have arisen, or may arise.

“Training and retraining to build capacity of the Budget Officers on the ZBB concept will be intensified in 2016.

“As we move forward, lessons are being learnt; the ministry’s experience and competency on ZBB will be improved and perfected upon.”

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