…Says Budget Padding a Strange Concept to His Administration
Chris Steven, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday revealed that N4.2billion was stolen monthly from government coffers,through fraudulent activities perpetrated by civil servants.
He said the political will to restructure the civil service led to the uncovering of 43,000 ghost workers in the public service, who were withdrawing salaries prior to the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system(IPPIS).
Buhari made the revelation, when he delivered his democracy day broadcast to Nigerians in the early hours on Sunday.
He noted that efforts to check graft and financial recklessness that characterized the immediate past administration would in the long run,save the country approximately N23billion per annum,funds that would have gone for expenses for official trips and sitting allowances.
His words,”We identified forty-three thousand ghost workers through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system. That represents pay packets totalling N4.2 billion stolen every month.
“In addition, we will save Twenty-Three Billion Naira per annum from official travelling and sitting allowances alone.
“Our efficiency unit will work to cut costs and eliminate duplications in ministries and departments. Every little saving helps. The reduction in the number of ministries and work on restructuring and rationalization of the MDAs is well underway.
“When this work is complete we will have a leaner, more efficient public service that is fit for the purpose of changing Nigeria for the good and for good as well as making savings,”.
Buhari also admitted that the concept of budget padding was relatively new to him, but that his administration had been able to overcome the initial challenges and has instituted a budget process that is more transparent, more inclusive and more closely tied to the development needs of the citizenry.
“We have changed the way public money is spent. In all my years as a public servant, I have never come across the practice of padding budgets.
“I am glad to tell you now we not only have a budget, but more importantly, we have a budget process that is more transparent, more inclusive and more closely tied to our development priorities than in the recent past.
“30% of the expenditure in this budget is devoted to capital items. Furthermore, we are projecting non-oil revenues to surpass proceeds from oil.
“Some critics have described the budget exercise as clumsy. Perhaps. But it was an example of consensus building, which is integral to democratic government. In the end we resolved our differences,”Buhari said.
Recall that the National Assembly members and the Executive arm of government recently locked horns over discrepancies in the 2016 budget,before it was eventually assented to by the President to pave way for its implementation.