Reps summon Okonjo-Iweala, Budget Office DG over Auditor-Gen’s allocation

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By Okey Ndiribe & Emman Ovuakporie

ABUJA—House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has summoned Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Director-General of the Budget Office, Bright Okongwu, to explain poor allocation to the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, AuGF.

The committee, in a bid to check paltry allocation to the AuGF Office, suggested that it was time an amendment to the constitution was made to place the office on first line charge of the federation account.

The committee also turned down the allocation of N892.5 million to audit the proposed N4.9 trillion 2013 budget, adding that such poor budgetary allocation would render the operations of the Auditor-General’s office ineffective.

The AuGF, Mr. Samuel Ukura, had earlier in the meeting told the committee that his office had sought approval for the allocation of N5.2 billion to audit the 2013 budget, adding that the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office approved only N892.5 million.

Ukura explained that as a result of financial incapacity, the accounts of several ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, could not be audited in 2012.

He told the Solomon Adeola-led committee that there was zero allocation to his office in respect of the auditing of the Federation Account for the year 2013.

The Minister of Finance, who is to appear with the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogwu, is also expected to explain why there was zero allocation in the 2013 budget for the audit of the Federation Account.

The Auditor-General also told the Committee that in 2012, his office “audited only 44 MDAs, leaving out 97 Foreign Missions, due to lack of funds.”

Members of the Public Accounts Committee, who sought financial autonomy for the auditor’s office as they were surprised by revelations from the AuGF, took turns to lash at a system that would frustrate the audit of MDAs.

Pally Iriase, a member of the committee representing Edo State, said: “If you look at this budget of the AuGF, it shows how unserious we are about tackling corruption in this country.

“This budget ought to signpost our seriousness in tackling the issue of corruption headlong.”

, but the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office in their strange wisdom have decided that the best thing to do is to frustrate the office of the Auditor-General.”

In his contribution, Karimi Sunday(ACN-Kogi) observed that “there is a continuous attempt to frustrate and render the office of the Accountant-General redundant.

“They (Ministry of Finance and Budget Office) don’t want the office to do their work, but there is a need for this committee to perform its statutory role.”

 

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