Minister makes clarification on 206bn padded in the 2023 budget

Minister makes clarification on 206bn padded in the 2023 budget

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq has made clarifications on the 206bn padded in the 2023 budget.

Farouq told Senators yesterday that the N206 billion alleged padding in the ministry’s 2023 budget was meant for the purchase of military equipment.

Farouq said this when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties, chaired by Yusuf Yusuf (APC Taraba Central).

The minister had, last week, disowned the amount and said it was allegedly “inserted” into the ministry’s budget by the Ministry of Finance.

When lawmakers asked for further clarification on the matter, Farouq said: “On the N206 billion, when we saw it, we didn’t understand what it was meant for because the explanation wasn’t clear.

“If you put N206 billion in Humanitarian Affairs Ministry’s budget and the narration is purchase of military equipment, definitely something is wrong.

“That’s why I said I was not going to say anything about it until we got clarification from the Ministry of Finance.

“If we had requested for N206 billion for a different project and then in the Appropriation Bill, it was reading something else, we would not own it.

When the lawmakers further pressed her to explain whether or not she requested for the N206 billion for another project but it came with another narration, she simply said: “It is not exactly that way. That’s why we need that clarity from the Finance Ministry.”

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had, on Wednesday, told a special meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation which invited her alongside the Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akubeze, and Farouq that there was a wrong coding of the projects.

She said the monetary provision was made for the social safety nets projects, adding that it was an $800 million project that had been approved by the board of the World Bank and the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

According to her, the loan was fully negotiated by the Nigerian Government with the full involvement of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

Ahmed had said: “The 2023 budget proposal has been prepared with the utmost sincerity of purpose and in line with established regulations and procedures.

“Over the past week, there has been a lot of misinformation in the media regarding certain provisions in the 2023 budget totaling N423.8 billion.

“The expenditures questioned are mostly related to provisions for multilateral and bilateral loan-funded projects.

“It is instructive that all these projects are now the subject of controversy and were included in the budgets of the MDAs which were transmitted to the supervising ministers for their review and feedback on October 4, 2022 before the presentation to both the FEC and the National Assembly.

“Until these recent controversies, none of the concerned MDAs raised any issues on the projects with our ministry,” she said.

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