According to leading online publication, Premium Times, a senior member of the Buhari administration has disclosed the reason for the many shortcomings in the 2016 budget.
Premium Times reported:
Another top administration official on Thursday gave PREMIUM TIMES further details on how the government was responding to the embarrassing budget allocations.
He pleaded anonymity, and said the government was avoiding publicly stating its position on the matter for now to avoid playing into the hands of its critics.
The official said both the Finance and Budget & National Planning ministries were determined to effect the necessary corrections and turn in a clean copy of the document for approval.
He blamed most of the errors in the budget on “over-ambitious civil servants” in the budget office who handled the preparation of the document prior to the appointment of ministers by Mr. Buhari.
He said by the time the ministers were eventually appointed, they had no sufficient time to properly scrutinize the budget for errors, in view of the tight deadline each of the ministries got before the final presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly on December 22, 2015.
Now recall, after his election, President Muhammad Buhari took several long months to appoint a cabinet.
Many Nigerians criticized the delays in the appointments, however the President took 6 months to make the appointments and hand portfolios to the appointees. These delays resulted in some of the economic decline Nigeria is presently witnessing, according to analysts.
Respected economic consultant, Bismarck Rewane speaking on Channels TV News earlier this week said the delay in budget passage was going to further slow economic growth as the delay in government spending would not give room for the economy to be stimulated.
The Presidency in seeking to execute damage control has reportedly set up a “high powered panel” to investigate what Nigerians have dubbed ‘the budget of corruption’.
Premium Times reported an anonymous source in the Presidency to have said:
To enable the budget to be cleaned up of all the controversial allocations, the official said a high-powered panel had been constituted with a mandate to investigate all observations and concerns by individuals, media and agencies, particularly the National Assembly.
“The presidency has ordered the immediate investigation of all the allegations and issues, particularly on padding, raised by the National Assembly on various ministries, departments and agencies of government,” he said.
“The investigative panel is expected to critically look into the budget item-by-item, incident-by-incident, with particular attention to the reactions from the National Assembly, ministries, media, civil society groups or indeed anybody that raised concerns regarding the padding of the budget.
“All corrections would be made to ensure that the budget was passed as soon as possible. I assure you government is working cautiously on the corrections with the intention of correcting any error or malfeasance spotted in the 2016 Appropriation Bill. If there is any error whatsoever, it is being sorted out straight away,” the official added.