The Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Samuel Ukura on Thursday disputed claims by the federal government and Ministry of Budget and National Planning that the 2016 budget was centred on the zero-based budgeting system
According to him, the federal government had initially chosen the zero-based budgeting system as template for this year’s budget, but it was forced to jettison it because the reality on ground did not favour its implementation.
Ukura told the Senate Committee on Public Accounts while defending the budget of his office that the N2.9 billion budgeted for his office this year, just like other proposals in the 2016 budget, was drawn up using the traditional envelope system previously used by the Ministry of Finance, which the federal government was forced to return to.
He said, “The budgets of all ministries, departments and agencies of government this year are all enveloped-based and not zero-based as has been the case over the years, including that of my office, which was even largely done for us by the supervising ministry (budget and national planning ministry)”.
Ukura by virtue of his office is independent and reports directly to the president, and his revelation contradicts the submission made by President Muhammadu Buhari before the joint session of the National Assembly on December 22, 2015 while presenting the budget.
But Ukura insisted that the zero-based budgeting system was dropped from the adding, that “This year’s budget is enveloped-based and not zero-based in anyway; it is the envelope system. The zero-based budgeting they wanted to introduce was not adhered to at the end of the day.
“In zero-based budgeting, it is assumed that such expenditure does not exist, you start from zero and justify why that expenditure must be used and at the end of it, the result you are going to get out of it.
“So it is a system which is good and which would have also helped to set targets but that wasn’t applied at the end of the day perhaps because it was hurriedly introduced.
“Under zero-based budgeting, a budget proposal and by extension, defence, is not about fighting but discussing what is made available for one to work with, because what they want, they give,” he explained.
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