Budget Padding: Humanitarian Affairs Minister Exonerates Finance Ministry

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, yesterday exonerated the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning from alleged budget insertions.

Umar-Farouq’s ministry had, two weeks ago, told the Senate Committee on Special Duties that N206,242,395,000 found its way into its budget without its knowledge.

But appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation yesterday, Umar-Farouq, represented by Permanent Secretary Nasir Sani Gwarzo, said: “I want to commend the Ministry of Finance and to also clarify that that issue was not created by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and from the explanation given, totally, what has been provided was part of our projects.

“The only mistake there, which has been clarified even before this committee, is that it’s a project that’s continuing. I’ve seen several media reports including the project is ending at the end of this year, which is also not true.

“The project is completing a cycle, a phase and has gone into another phase and that was what the Ministry of Finance has captured”.

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the 2023 budget proposal was prepared with utmost sincerity of purpose and in line with established regulations and procedures.”

She said the World Bank was the funding source for the scale-up of the N206.2bn National Social Safety Nets Project in the 2023 budget.

“This project was correctly described in the submission from IERD for 2023 budget, but regrettably, a wrong code was inadvertently used in the process of inputting it which resulted in it being captured as ‘purchase of security equipment’ in the GIFMIS Budget Preparation System, which has a limited dropdown range project descriptions/codes.

“The same project was correctly captured in the 2022 budget of the FMHADMSD in the amount of N12,304,500,000 [ERGP1180310], based on the projected drwdown of $30m@N410.15/$ 2022 budget exchange rate.

“The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs is projected to utilise $473m of this loan in the year 2022. This’s what is provided and when you convert it into Naira using the exchange rate of N435.5 to the US Dollar, you’ll get that same amount of N266bn. This same amount was listed in the MTEF of the ministry, this same amount was listed in the budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and was circulated.

“But, there was a mistake. In providing for this provision, the Budget Office has mistakenly tabulated a wrong code which described the amount as security equipment. But the amount itself is correct and is consistent with what has been in the provision even from the level of the MTEF”.

The committee summoned Umar-Farouq to appear for her ministry’s budget defence.

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