29 January 2014

Nigeria: Govt May Recall 2014 Budget After Errors Discovered

Photo: Leadership
Nigeria Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The passage of the 2014 budget is likley to be delayed as the executive is set to replace the document currently with the National Assembly.

Source at the Ministry of Finance told Daily Trust yesterday that due to some symmetric errors discovered in the earlier document presented by Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in December last year, the replacement of the document is necessary to have an implementable one for the legislature to work properly on.

The source told our reporter that the errors occurred due to a mix-up arising from the use of the Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System (GIFMIS).

According to the source, the ministry test-runs the GIFMIS system in preparing this year's budget which unfortunately brought in the errors.

This is coming when the main opposition party - All Progressives Congress (APC) - has asked its legislators to block the budget due to the lingering political crises in Rivers State between the presidency and the state government.

APC members especially in the House of Representatives hold key committees, including Finance, which play key roles in passing the budget.

The source informed Daily Trust that the budget passage may likely take longer than usual due to these problems.

At the public presentation of the budget estimates last week, the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Dr Bright Okogu, announced some of the errors.

Some of the noticeable errors, according to him, had included allocations for the Mathematical Centre, Sheda; Investment and Securities Tribunal and Federal College of Education, Katsina for fuelling and maintenance of aircraft, boats and railway equipment.

Okogu said: "What happened was that GIFMIS being a new system, had some glitches that reflected in some of the provisions. It is not totally strange. Many of you have read about the Obamacare and the challenges they had in actually implementing it. It is a big system, bigger than ours, but with the same features.

"What we saw in 2014 is because this is the first time we have used the GIFMIS to prepare the budget. I actually feel very proud. It is an issue which we have recognised and I want to use this opportunity to assure everyone that we will clean the books. We have already approached the National Assembly concerning this," he said.

Finance ministry sources said though the legislature has began debating the budget, the corrections may still have to be done at the committee level.

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