2016 Appropriation Bill Was Not Predicated On Zero-based Budgeting- Auditor-General

The 2016 budget was not predicated on the zero-based budgeting system as widely claimed by the federal government and Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Auditor-General of the Federation (AuGF), Samuel Ukura, shockingly disclosed yesterday.

Ukura, who made this disclosure while defending the budget of his office before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, admitted that though the federal government had chosen zero-based budgeting as the template for the 2016 budget, it was later forced to jettison it because the reality on ground did not favour its implementation.

However, the auditor-general’s claim was dismissed last night by officials of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, who said Ukura did not know what he was talking about and wondered how he could have made the assertion given that he does not work in the Budget Office of the Federation.

Disclosing that the federal government was forced to return to the traditional envelope system, Ukura said the N2.9 billion budgeted for his office this year, just like other proposals in the 2016 budget, was drawn up using the envelope system previously used by the Ministry of Finance.

“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, who by virtue of his office is independent and reports directly to the president, said.

His disclosure shocked the committee and compelled Senators Akpan Bassey (Akwa Ibom, North-east) and Foster Ogola (Bayelsa, West) to remind Ukura how his revelation contradicted the submission before the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 22, 2015 while presenting the budget.

But Ukura insisted that the zero-based budgeting system was dropped from the outset and proceeded to throw more light on the intricacies on the zero-based budgeting process.

Credit: Thisday