Facts have emerged how Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) misapplied billions of public funds in a bid to beat the December deadline and avert a return of unspent funds to the public purse.
It was gathered that the monies expended by various MDAs alone in December 2012 surpassed allocations released in the last nine months of the year put together.
The rationale behind the ‘December rush’, according to investigations, was due to a directive issued by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to the effect that all unspent funds be returned to Government’s coffer by end of December.
LegisReports investigations revealed that a particular Commission in the Ministry of Education (Universal Basic Education), may have spent over N1 billion on non-existing boreholes projects. Other agencies and parastatals also claimed to have paid for several projects in order to balance the account for the year.
Apparently worried by this development, the House of Representatives has hinted of plans to vet all the accounts of various MDAs under the purview of Federal Ministry of Finance on quarterly basis henceforth.
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said the plan to scrutinize Federal Government’s account on a quarterly basis is with a view to check misappropriation and misapplication of public resources.
Mohammed who briefed the press on the activities of the House for the week, posited that the supplementary budget passed a fortnight before the end of 2012 fiscal year, was unnecessary owing to the fact that such money would be misapplied, and that to guard against such the House and Senate had unanimously resolved to extend the budget implementation to April 2013.
He said: “We took the decision in the House that the capital component of the 2012 budget should roll over to April of 2013. As at the time we were passing the budget for 2013 by Christmas, the fourth quarter allocation for 2013 was just released and if you are now to mop up the funds by 31st of December 2012, what happens to the funds just approved?
“The tradition is that people would just misapply the funds and end up in private pockets. What can they accomplish with the funds within two weeks? So our position is that why not give the MDAs some time so that the monies can be better applied in the needed areas.”
On the issue of delay in signing the 2013 budget, the House spokesman, said the House is guided in its action by the need to protect the interest of the generality of Nigerians. “I want to say that all the decisions taken by the House were in the interest of the generality of Nigerians to protect the budget and protect the President himself too,” he said, adding: “This is because as the President, when you initiate a budget and it’s not completed then you have not reached your destination, it is only when it is completed that can you can say you have delivered. The budget will be taken seriously and the implementation will also be taken seriously.”
“However, hopefully by next week, something is expected to have happened on it but I want to assure that the National Assembly is not afraid to apply the provisions of the constitution on the issue because the budget is about the generality of Nigerians.
“However we have to explore and exhaust all available options for resolution of the grey areas because at the end of the day, the budget is the product of the people of Nigeria, who might suffer unduly until it is committed to law.