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Reps decry budget measurement criteria

By on September 27, 2013

Ahead of the imminent presentation of the 2014 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan, members of the House of Representatives, on Wednesday, expressed displeasure at what the Ministry of Finance and the budget office call budget performance.

Speaking during an oversight assessment of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), members of the House Committee on Finance urged the nation’s economic managers to discard the current template for measuring budget performance.

The legislators accused the ministry of finance and the budget office of the federation of basing budget performance on the amount that has been released rather than on what has been budgeted.

According to Abdulmumin Jibrin, the committee chairman, “budget performance should not be based on releases, but on budgeted figures.”

To support their claims, the legislators noted that “incomplete release of funds to the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs), especially the OAGF, will lead to non-performance. Poor release of funds will lead to poor performance.”

Using the presentation made by the AGF to the members of the committee, the legislators were miffed that between January and August 2013, N3.3 billion was budgeted as personnel cost for the OAGF, but that only N2.03 billion had so far been released and utilised by the OAGF and yet it has a budget performance rating of 100 per cent.

For the first, second and third quarter capital releases for the OAGF, N43 million was budgeted for the purchase of  a “power generating set,” but as at September 25, 2013, N20.546 million had been released. Of this amount, it was also noted that only N18,100,203.90 had expended on the purchase with a performance rating of 88 per cent.

Rather than use the amount released to measure budget performance, the legislators prefer the use of the budgeted figure, which they say will give a true picture of how a budget is performing.

Also, they noted, for the construction /provision of public schools, N401.494 million was budgeted, but only N191.844 million or 47.78 per cent was released, while only N127.711 million, representing 31.8 per cent of the amount released had so far been expended on the project. Yet, the project is said to have performance rating of 67 per cent.

Earlier, the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Jonah Otunla, canvassed for the retention of a single office of Accountant General for both the Federal Government and the federation.

Otunla argued that “splitting the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) from the Federal Ministry of Finance will trivialize the work of government.”



[Daily Independent]