2016 budget was never padded -Minister

Solomon Chung, Lagos

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said that the 2016 budget was not padded because the total figure voted for all Ministries, Departments and Agencies  has not exceeded the summary total of N6.08 trillion.
Briefing newsmen, Mohammed said: “the total for every MDA has remained exactly the same as what was submitted to the National Assembly.
During the annual Gani Fawehinmi students chambers  annual symposium with the theme Fighting Corruption and Human Rights,the Minister responded to comments about the 2016 budget.
“A lot has been said about the budget. Let me make clear that nobody can ever accuse this government of padding any budget. The total of all ministries put together has not exceeded N6.08 trillion that was submitted. It is factually incorrect to say that the budget was padded.”
This is the first time in the history of this country that a government will embark on what is called zero based budget, he stated.
“Before now, the budget system was what was called an enveloped system. In an envelope system, there is no justification as to why we need N30 billion for a structure. This year, we decide that every ministry must have a zero based budget. In other word, you must justify and explain why you need N100 billion.”
Explaining why there were some little unresolved issues with the figures and some items contained in the budget, he said the system is good.
“It is very good system, the software for it was also very different. The personnel were not used to it, thus it was difficult to clean it up as soon as it should.
Now, in the process we got to National Assembly. What the ministers do is to have a broad overview of the budget. The template used by the Budget Office is uniform for all ministers.’’
The minister also said exports, balance of trade, Gross Domestic Product were responsible for currency appreciation and depreciation.
“Before now we use to sell crude for about 100 dollar per barrel which means if we produce two million barrels per day, you have something in the region of 200 million dollar less the expenditure of production and others.
But today for the same two million barrels, you have less than 60 million dollar less the cost of production.’’
Clearly, if the country’s major source of exchange is crude and it has gone down this deep, it is a challenge. Losing about 70 per cent of the country’s source of income will certainly affect a lot of things, he said.
“The government is doing a lot to ensure that the little resources are properly managed. Part of the decision we took was the Treasury Single Account. Others include blocking all forms of corruption and leakages and also diversifying the economy so that we can get foreign exchange from other sources,’’ he said.