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Business News of Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Source: www.punchng.com

100% capital budget released to MDAs in 2020, 2021 – FG

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed

The Federal Government says that 100 percent of capital budgets was released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, in 2020 and 2021.

This was disclosed by the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze while reeling out Nigeria’s achievements in budget transparency in Abuja on Tuesday.

Speaking during the unveiling of Nigeria’s scorecard on the 2021 Open Budget Survey, Akabueze said Nigeria posted its best performance in the open budget survey, improving by 24 points for transparency in the latest survey.

“The total transparency score of 45 in the 2021 survey is a significant leap from the 21 scored in the 2019 survey,” he said, noting that the score was the second-highest improvement worldwide.

He said the government had implemented strategic revenue initiatives to boost earnings’ growth and steer growth, noting that it had also begun open treasury plans which included full disclosure of FGN payments and enhanced social investments.

“There have been tax administration and tax compliance now, resulting in increased revenue collections. We are also amending aspects of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 and enhancing fiscal efficiencies by controlling the cost-to-revenue ratios of key State and Government-Owned Enterprises.”

There have been issues around open budgeting across the world. In Nigeria, MDAs have often times lamented lack of budget releases by the government or, in some cases, approval hiccups encountered at the National Assembly.

Sally Torbert of the International Budget Partnership, IBP, said there was some work to be done in terms of working with the auditor general’s office to release the audit report in a timely manner.

“Nigeria currently scores 45 out of 100. We consider 61 to be the level of sufficient budget information. So, we’re hoping to encourage Nigeria to improve in future rounds and hit that benchmark of 61. So that’s the target that we’re really encouraging for now.”

In terms of budget implementation and monitoring in Nigeria, she said it was important to improve transparency “So, you see that sometimes not all of the cash is being released to the MDAs for them to use. And sometimes, those MDAs also have trouble utilising the cash that they receive. And so, there’s a number of budget reports that we hope to see that help track and report on the progress on that. The monthly reports that we saw released on time, and this round is a really good first step in disclosing that information.

There can be more done to help better link procurement data and budget data so that civil society groups can actually track procurement processes and see when they’re delayed and what’s happening because of that.”