Friday, January 21

FG reveals why funds meant for some projects in 2021 budget were withheld

The Federal Government has revealed that funds were withheld for duplicated projects in the 2021 budget.

The government said that it was part of the necessary measure taken after the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), in a report, uncovered some duplicated projects in the 2021 budget.

This disclosure was made by the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr Ben Akabueze, during an interview on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, on Friday December 3, 2021, and monitored by Nairametrics.

Akabueze, who is a Chartered Accountant and a former Commissioner for Budget in Lagos State, highlighted the measures taken by the Budget Office to prevent wastage of government’s funds.

What the Director-General of the Budget Office is saying

Akabueze, while answering questions, stated, “The ICPC came up with a report which they sent to us about duplicated projects that they found in the budget.”

“We did our own review (and) we found that 54 of those projects were not actually duplications but there were issues with project descriptions – project descriptions which made them look the same, but they were not the same.

“Every project in the budget has a unique identifier and for the ones which were found to indeed be duplicated, funding was withheld for such projects. There were 185 from the list we received; 185 (projects) were found to be duplicated, 54 were not.”

Responding further to ICPC’s indictment of some federal government ministries and agencies for duplication of projects, Akabueze noted that it is the responsibility of the commission to take necessary actions against those involved in such acts in the nation’s budget.

He maintained that the best the Budget Office could do was to withhold the release of funds for such a purpose to help the nation save its resources.

He said, “We have our own job description, we have the limit of our own authority,” the accountant stated. “When it (duplicated project) is discovered, the most – on our own part – that we can do is withhold release of funds to those specific projects.

The ICPC has already reported. They have investigative powers, so they actually pull in the people involved to investigate whether these are willful actions to defraud the government or whether they are erroneous. They are the ones with the authority to do so, we don’t (have such authority).”

In case you missed it

Recall that a few days ago, the Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed that the commission has uncovered 257 duplicated projects worth N20.138 billion in the 2021 budget currently being implemented.

He also accused the Federal Ministry of Labour and the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan and other parastatals of engaging in illegal recruitment of workers.

The ICPC boss, who spoke Tuesday at the 3rd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector, held at the State House Conference Hall in Abuja, said the Commission’s review of the 2021 budget resulted in the discovery of 257 projects amounting to N20.138 billion being duplicated in the budget.

He further stated that ICPC’s projects tracking covered 1,083 projects across the entire country with the exception of Borno and Zamfara States due to security challenges.