Finance Minister Clarifies N206bn In Humanitarian Affairs Ministry Budget
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, says N206 billion captured in the ministry of humanitarian affairs’ 2023 budget proposal was wrongly coded by the Budget Office.
She stated this during her presentation before the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, while appearing before the Senate Committee on Special Duties on November 21, 2022, for budget defence, blamed the finance ministry for adding N206bn to the ministry’s budget.
Farouq had claimed that the ministry requested some projects for the North East Development Commission and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 budget, which were not released, but was surprised to see an inflated amount in the 2023 budget of the ministry.
Consequently, the House invited the finance minister to respond to the queries concerning the budgets of various ministries, departments and agencies.
The finance minister, however, explained that the N206 billion was an oversight.
The minister said the N206 billion was for the national social safety nets project funded by the World Bank and domiciled in the humanitarian ministry.
She noted that the wrong coding resulted in the item being wrongly captured as a “purchase of security equipment” and had nothing to do with budget padding but an oversight.
According to her, the minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management should have called the attention of the budget office to the anomaly like her counterparts in other ministries.
She disclosed that the ministry of defence, and the ministry of power, among others, also committed the same error.
Ahmed, however, called for collaboration among ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to forestall such oversight.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, however, pointed out that Farouq did not accuse her finance ministry counterpart of padding the budget, saying the media dwelled on the comments made by senators at the session.
“Before I comment on the content of the comment, let me comment on the context. I was at the briefing when the minister was asked a question about the code, and she said that she did not understand that and that she would get clarification.
Then the chairman obliged that the clarification will be brought and the matter was closed,” Nasir Sani Gwarzo, said.
“One of the members then, in his summary, insinuated that that was padding, and that was what the press took. So, the minister of humanitarian affairs did not mention or use the word padding.
“She requested time to correct this mistake that she observed. Secondly, we did not go to the media refuting or challenging, rather we wrote a letter to the ministry of finance, budget and national planning seeking clarification.
Therefore, I concur totally that what has been provided in the budget is part of our project. The only mistake was the coding which has been clarified even before this interactive meeting.”
The statement added that the permanent secretary, who stood in for the minister, distanced her from the budget padding statement.