By Chikezie Omeje
BudgIT, a civic organisation, has forwarded a long list containing 590 items it considered “frivolous” in the 2017 budget proposal to the leadership of the National Assembly.
The group had complied a list of “frivolous and suspicious items” it found in the budget across Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs which should be deleted from the budget.
BudgIT said the list was not exhaustive and advised the lawmakers to use it as a template to examine the budget before passing the appropriation bill.
It gave the names of the MDAs concern, the suspicious or frivolous line items, amount budgeted and a question or comment against each which will be determined by the National Assembly standing committees during the budget defense exercise.
The various committees of the National Assembly have begun deliberation on the 2017 budget, and there are indications the lawmakers would ensure a detailed scrutiny of all the items.
The 2016 budget consideration was marred by allegations of budget padding which led to delay in passing it. The federal government subsequently promised to clean up the 2017 budget proposal before sending it to the national assembly.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki has given all Senate committee chairmen the document prepared by Budgit as a working document and directed them to thoroughly examine all allocations in the budget.
Some of the suspicious items are those that appear yearly on the budget such as purchase of vehicles, office equipment, furniture, computers, among others.
The Federal Ministry of Finance which is expected to lead the rest of the ministries in presenting clean budget is also immersed in these frivolous items palaver in the budget.
The ministry will spend as much as N8 million on telephone calls alone while only N4, 339,063 was budgeted for the same purpose in 2016.
The same Ministry of Finance is budgeting N40 million for cleaning and fumigation as against the N3.6 million that was budgeted for same purpose in the 2016.
Also, the ministry budgeted N106, 711,000 for office furniture and Fitting, an item contained in the 2016 budget.
Other suspicious and frivolous items of the budget of the Ministry of Finance, include N70 for financial consulting, N98 million for the usual yearly purchase of computers and another N98 million for computer Consumables.
These sort of suspicious items in the budget of Ministry of Finance are replicated in almost all other ministries and agencies.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, budgeted N1,100,595,088 for furnishing of its new head office while N455, 000,000 will be used to purchase vehicles.
For welfare packages, the State House Headquarters budgeted N209, 550,000 and N100, 820,300 for purchase of canteen and kitchen equipment.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, will spend N5 million on a website. Exactly N3.8 million was allocated for photocopying machines in the year 2016 but this exact figure has reappeared in the 2017 budget.
SGF also wants N432, 193,800 to purchase motor vehicles despite N400 million being allocated for the purchase of motor vehicles in the year 2016 and N107.6 million in year 2015.