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Reps Fault Envelope System for the 2013 Budget

By on November 27, 2012

President Jonathan Presents Budget at the National Assembly

Members of the House of Representatives have damned the implementation of the ‘Envelope Template’ for budget preparation for Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDA) with no due consideration of individual peculiarity of the MDAs.

This followed the condemnation of the envelope system adopted by various House Committees engaging MDAs on the 2012 budget defence and 2013-budget presentation. Earlier the committees in their separate remarks said the system was disadvantageous to the nation.

They all rejected the system, saying they would address the issue without fail with the 2013 budget.

In detail, the system involves a designated official who is expected to account for all expenditures in respect of both capital and recurrent appropriations since the envelope system requires that the MDAs adopt the estimates given in sealed envelope to the Ministry of Finance.

Yesterday, the Chairman, House Committee on Human Rights, Beni Lar during the budget defence of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), moved against the absence of MDAs in budget preparations.

In addition, Chairman, Committee on Integration in Africa, Abubakar Momoh, too queried the significance of the N60million security vote for 2013 for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as shown on the agency’s budget.

Lar said, “This envelope system is not doing this nation any good; it is setting us back. It is our opinion that we have to find new ways of helping this country.

“One can imagine that in a country that is short on infrastructural development, the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office would not find it expedient to have the input of the MDAs that actually know what they needed before being given whatever they feel.

“It is disheartening to hear from one agency to the other that they have no input in the final budget proposal sent to the National Assembly by Mr President.

“The Ministry of Finance should not just give a blanket amount to MDAs telling them to spend it anyhow they can. If they spend the money given to them anyhow, they can. Won’t they be violating the Appropriation Act if they really want to meet their needs with the inconsiderate envelope thrown at them by the Presidency?” he asked.

The Chairman of the Committee, Abubakar Momoh, who previously blamed NEPAD and the Institute for Conflict Resolution (ICPR) of plot for failing to submit their budget presentations in time, rejected the envelop system, saying it was bad for the nation.

The Chairman of the Committee asked the Special Assistant to the President on NEPAD, Dr Tunji Olagunju to defend the essence of the security vote.

“We are aware that NEPAD has no security issue to address on its own, and one wonders what use the teaching aids and laboratories would be for the agency.

“This is an organisation that clearly needs funds in some critical areas knowing that its mandate transcends the shores of this country. The impact of its mandate on the growth of this country cannot be overemphasized.

“It is the opinion of this Committee that the envelope system is retrogressive and it showed that they were not carried along in the preparation of the budget.

“The MDAs should be involved in the planning of the budget and that is the only way through which they can be effective.”

NEPAD was asked to go back and prepare a comprehensive document for presentation on another day, although the budget presentation of the Human Rights Commission was approved.