Budget Office paid N19bn to MDAs without approval; Senate demands refund
THE Senate has indicted the Budget Office of the Federation for approving N19 billion to four ministries, department and agencies, MDAs, without the approval of the Minister of Finance.
The Senate has asked the Budget Office to refund the money to the Federation Account from the four unnamed MDAs.
This was uncovered by the Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) led Senate Committee on Public Accounts that, in October last year, commenced investigation into alleged illegal payment of N19 billion to four unnamed MDAs by the Budget Office.
At the end of its investigation, the budget office was unable to present evidence of approval from Ministry of Finance before payment of N19 billion from Service Wide Vote to the four unnamed federal agencies.
Budget Office’s defence
Responding to the query, the Budget Office of the Federation claimed that it had written the office of the Auditor General of the Federation requesting for details for the four MDAs without response.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Urhoghide noted that the Budget Office did not present the letter it claimed to have written to the office of the Auditor-General requesting for details.
Due to failure of budget office to present approval for the payment of N19 billion to the four MDAs, the Senate adopted the report of Senate Public Accounts Committee on the matter asking for refund of the said amount to Nation’s purse.
The query is in the 2016 report of Auditor-General of the Federation that was submitted to Senate for consideration last week.
The query by the Auditor-General read: “Four MDAs were paid the sum of N19 billion from the Service Wide Vote without the approval of the Minister of Finance.
“Some of the payments were made on a purported verbal directives from the Director-General.
“This act is against the Financial Regulation 301 and 302 which state that ‘recurrent expenditure is paid from the CRF and no expenditure may be incurred except on the authority of a warrant issued by the Minister of Finance.
“In view of the above, it is difficult to accept the payment to the MDAs as proper and legitimate charges against the public funds.
“The Director-General should provide evidence of approval from the Minister of Finance for these expenditures or recover the sum of N19bn from the benefiting MDAs.”