Senate on Tuesday decried the yearly poor budgetary ceiling to Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAGF) by the Budget Office, saying the allocations over the years were grossly inadequate.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Sen. Matthew Urhohghide (PDP Edo) with other members of the committee expressed their displeasure when officials of OAGF and Budget Office appeared before the Committee.
He said the Committee had considered the budget office proposal for the OAGF and was dissatisfied with the budget proposal of N4.47 billion proposed to OAGF for the 2021 budget.
He said the budget would not be adequate for the OAGF to audit over 600 Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) including foreign missions and their Attaches.
According to him, there has been continued under-funding of OAGF which is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of ensuring transparency, accountability, and probity in governance.
He said the OAGF was in need of replacing 247 retired staff which has not been provided for in the budget proposal.
“The promotion and annual increments of staff are also not factored in the year 2021 budget,” Urhoghide said.
According to him, the amount provided for the training and welfare of staff members which is the major asset of OAGF was inadequate for the performance of its statutory functions.
He said that the OAGF was in need of funds for the performance of specialised audit which was also provided for in the year 2021 budget proposal for the office.
He said there was a need to digitalise and automate the system for better performance noting that the OAGF’s budget proposal for this purpose was not approved by the Budget Office.
He said it was an irony that while the OAGF which was constitutionally established to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public funds was having reduced allocations similar agencies established to achieve a fraction of the same objective are well funded.
Urhoghide listed the agencies to include the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC).
According to him, EFCC approved appropriation for 2018 was N21.69billion, in 2019 it was N22,07 billion, and 2020 was N30.92 billion while the 2021 proposal was N29.86 billion.
For ICPC, he said N5,09 billion was approved in 2018, the sum of N6.28 billion was for 2019, adding that N7.52 billion was approved in 2020, while N11.25 billion was proposed for the 2021 budget.
He, however, said that OAGF which has a constitutional mandate of ensuring transparency on the public fund was allocated N3.22 billion in 2018, another N3.15 billion in 2019, while N4.13 billion was for 2020 and N4.69 billion was being proposed for 2021.
He sought the cooperation of the Budget office to provide solutions to the poor budgetary allocations of OAGF given its enormous responsibility for ensuring transparency in the usage of public funds.
Responding, Director General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze, explained that the office was operating based on personnel cost budget template handed over to it by the Federal Government.