Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Thursday allayed fears about the workability of the ministry’s 2013 budget.
In a statement by her spokesman, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, the minister said the presentation of the national budget by President Goodluck Jonathan in October was the earliest in recent memory.
She also said criticisms of the ministry’s aspect of the budget were unwarranted.
The statement, titled "The Proposed Budget Of the Federal Ministry of Finance", reads: “Since the presentation of the 2013 Budget draft to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan, we have received a lot of positive feedback from Nigerians in different parts of the country.
“In particular, the fact that the budget presentation took place in October, the earliest in recent memory, was highly commended by many Nigerians who have reached out to us. Many other aspects of the budget also received commendation. They include:
- the focus on power supply, roads, rail and aviation safety
- the robust plans to reduce domestic debt, recurrent expenditure and the fiscal deficit.
- gender-friendly nature of the budget and the provisions made to boost maternal and child welfare.
“We welcome this dialogue on the budget because we believe that transparency is a key ingredient of an effective budget process. The budget is for the Nigerian people and they have a fundamental right to have their say on it.
“It is in this spirit that we take some comments on some aspects of the budget of the Federal Ministry of Finance even when the motives of some of those making the comments may not be positive. The aspects which have attracted comments include provisions made for personnel, overheads, capital expenditure, sitting allowances, refreshments, travels and training.
“In responding to these comments, it is important to keep the following facts in mind:
"The agencies are Debt Management Office, Budget Office of the Federation, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Investment and Securities Tribunal and the National Insurance Commission.
"The provisions made for personnel, overheads, sitting allowances and travels, training and so on are modest and justifiable. It is important to keep in mind that the ministry pays for a lot of studies and investigations done for other parts of government in various areas of economic reform, including pensions, public service reforms, housing and mortgage etc. It also hosts experts from within and outside the country in technical sessions and meetings in line with its mandate.
"The proposed annual budget for cleaning and fumigating the premises of the ministry – N43,381,673 – is certainly within the parameters of industry standards. Additionally, it is also important to keep in mind that the ministry is facing serious structural and environment challenges which have made these services very necessary.
"The ministry under the leadership of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is very conscious of its key role and will continue to lead by example in areas under its mandate. The focus as always is on managing the finances of the country in a manner that protects and enhances the interests of the country.”