The Federal Government has said that in view of the current dwindling oil revenue, budget padding is unrealistic and unpatriotic.
Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, stated this Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents after the first Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of the year.
The FEC meeting, which lasted 40 minutes, was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister was responding to the alleged padding of the 2016 budget by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); a practice of inflating the budget proposal to make the figures appear larger than the actual estimates for the projects.
Adeosun, who said the federal government was not part of any budget padding, also clarified that the 2016 budgeting process was only pruning down unnecessary expenditures.
She also hinted that the government had set up an efficiency unit to look into how money is spent and how savings are made.
“Oil price has come down from $112 to $34-$35; anybody that is talking about padding any budget when there is no revenue is just not serious. I don’t know how to put it, but I will like to go further to state that it’s unpatriotic and unrealistic. There can be no padding of budget when revenues are so thin, and one of the things that I think the budgeting process is doing is pruning down unnecessary expenditure.
“Let me also mention that we have set up the efficiency unit that is going to look into how we spend money and how we make savings because the money just isn’t there. I don’t think this administration is part of that and I don’t think there can be anything like that”, she stated.
She also waded into the controversy surrounding the purported withdrawal of the budget from the National Assembly, saying the allegations were unfounded.
Adeosun, however, explained that there could be “normal” amendments when ministers and heads of various agencies went to the National Assembly for budget defence.
“Let me just speak to you about the budget process. You know the budget is presented to the National Assembly, and then, there is what we call an interactive budget approval process. And you know the agencies will still go and defend their budget at the National Assembly. So, ordinarily, in budget processes anywhere in the world, there can be amendments to the budget arising from that interactive process, which is normal.
“But let me make it very clear; the (2016) budget is not being withdrawn or replaced. The budget has been presented and will go through normal process whereby MDAs defend their budgets. It is possible in the process of that, because as you know, the legislature is not a rubber stamp. Their job is to scrutinize the budget and approve it. So, there may be some changes that occur as a result of that interactive process, but that process is normal everywhere in the world where a budget is presented”, she stated.