Senate quiz Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed over underfunding of AGF office, others

Senator Sani Musa (Niger East, APC) has said the Privatization Policy of former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo was not set right and has left the nation’s economy in the state that it is. Musa said this on Thursday at the #2021Budget defense with the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, while commenting on the present state of privatized sectors and its effect on the nation’s economy.

According to Musa, “during the era of President Obasanjo, he did try to bring this policy while he was trying as much as possible to privatize most of the government institutions that were revenue-generating at that period. “I give example with Transcop, Power sector, the Telecoms.

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And he empowered some individuals which the policy then had a default, and today we are facing the consequences of not having a well-designated economy because the policy was not set right at that period.” He said the people given the privatization assets were ought to have replicated by improving on the assets they bought. Musa stressed that funding of the privatized institutions were still funded by the Nigerian government. The Minister was also queried for the underfunding of key agencies and parastatals under her ministry including the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

The Accountant General, Ahmed Idris, who also appeared before the panel for his budget defense, had decried gross underfunding of his office. For the 2021 budget, he proposed N3.9 billion as personnel cost, N483 million for capital expenditure, and N752 million for overhead cost.

He also complained that all the 37 agency’s offices are all in dire need of rehabilitation. In the same light, some members of the panel agreed with the accountant-general. Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola said he wondered how the office of the accountant general of the federation will be underfunded. Also, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, a member of the panel, said if the office of the accountant general of the federation that accounts for the revenue generation of this entire country, is grossly underfunded, there will be leakages.

“If we want prudence and accountability for the finances of the government, this office must be properly funded. If well-funded, they will not be able to engage in leakage collaboration with agencies of government charged with revenue generation. “The revenue of this country has been diverted. Most of the agencies of government, parastatals, DGs, secretaries, don’t account for the actual revenue of the government.

And this is the office that put them to check. Provision has to be made for the office in Lagos for the proper infrastructure to be put in place. Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti Central, APC), blamed the poor funding on the “tyranny of the envelope system by the ministry of finance” – the act of cutting down the budgets of MDAs.

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