THE Federal Government may have spent not less than N1 billion in the processes leading to the preparation and production of the 1,969 pages of the 2020 appropriation bill currently before the National Assembly, tagged: “Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation,” Nigerian Tribune can authoritatively report.
The amount is the cumulative expenditure by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government, as reflected in the 2019 Appropriation Act currently being implemented by the various agencies of the Federal Government across the country.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the budget line item “Annual Budget Expenses and Administration,” with the code 22021014, appeared 227 times in the Appropriation Act 2019, with various costing by the respective MDAs.
The budget line revealed the total expenditure by the executive arm of government to prepare, coordinate and present the executive bill for the 2020 fiscal year budget to the National Assembly, with the State House spending N16,107, 232.
The State House has, however, approached the National Assembly to approve a higher figure for the same assignment to prepare the 2021 budget. The new figure of N26,107,232, is N10 million more than the money used to prepare the 2020 appropriation, Nigerian Tribune gathered.
Comrade Ezenwa Nwagwu, of the “Say No Campaign” movement, while reacting to the cost of producing the budget by the executive arm of government, said: “if I were to be writing school certificate today and asked to define government, I will simply write corruption.”
According to him, the situation turned for the worse when attempts were made to restore sanity to the nation’s fiscal discipline.
About 277 institutions of government, according to the 2019 budget, spent over N1,191,088,860 after collation of the verifiable budget item coded 22021014, in the 2019 Appropriation Act.
The cost for preparing the 2020 budget could fund overhead expenditure of the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation in same budget at the sum of N984,230,795.
Nigerian Tribune can authoritatively state that five organisations allocated over N50 million to fund the 2020 budget preparation exercise.
Top on the list, according to Nigerian Tribune findings, are Ministry of Interior, which spent N115,119,851); followed by the Budget Office of the federation, spending N107,532,160.
These two were distantly followed by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning headquarters, authorised by the 2019 Appropriation Act to spend N69,236,205.
Nigerian Tribune further findings revealed that the ministry of education headquarters spent N65,353,467, closely followed by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, which spent N64,765,964 to prepare its budget.
Federal Science Technical College (FSTC), Awka, Anambra State, had the lowest allocation for the budget line item, standing at N16,046.
According to the 2019 Appropriation Act, Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ expenditure for the preparation of the 2020 budget was 52,905,860; Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Commission, under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, spent N42,140,000.
The Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, topped the ivory tower league in huge spending of taxpayers money to fund its 2020 budget at the cost of N30,999,061, with the amount over 40 per cent of its capital allocation for the 2019 appropriation, standing at N71,678,378.
Director, Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, speaking on the development, said such spending was alarming, as it provided civil servants the leeway to engage in unrealistic and undisciplined fiscal transactions.
She called on the National Assembly to re-visit the 2016 auditor general’s report to address the unjustifiable spending.
“It is alarming to have the numbers of miscellaneous and some at huge cost in the MDAs budget as it may give room for improper spending.
“While I agree that it covers things not mentioned in regular category but also, it doesn’t allow for disciplined spending or realistic planning.
“That is why the law states basically that no money can be spent without appropriation. In a country where there is flagrant disregard for budgetary spending, this isn’t good practice. It is time for the National Assembly to look into the 2016 Auditor-General’s report,” Hassan stated.
When contacted, a senior official of the Budget Office of the Federation who asked not to be named, said how much is spent on preparation of annual budget depends on how large and scattered a ministry, department or agency is.
According to him, in the preparation of budget, an agency would gather its relevant desk officers from across the country to submit their recurrent and capital needs.
He explained further that it could take them days or even weeks to conclude the work and they would need to stay in hotels, collect night allowances and be entertained.
“After collation and before the minister takes the budget details to Federal Executive Council for defence, the officers would still be gathered from their stations to brief the political head of what is contained.
“What each MDA will propose for budget preparation expenses would, therefore, depend on how large and scattered such establishment is,” he said.