Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:23 pm
The Federal Government on Thursday said it would bar Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from spending money from “Service Wide Votes’’.
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this while appearing before the Senate Committee on Finance for the defence of 2016 budget of the ministry in Abuja.
She told the committee that the restriction on the spending became necessary in view of abuse of the vote by MDAs over the years.
The committee headed by Sen. John Eno had queried the management of the huge sums domiciled in the ministry, observing that over 90 per cent of the funds were usually spent annually.
The minister said that the ministry had decided to reject all request from MDAs seeking to spend from the votes, and said that the Service Wide Votes was only meant for exigencies.
“ We are checking the use of service wide votes; many memos that come up to us now trying to use service wide votes, we are sending them back to their various ministries.
“This should either have been budgeted for or go back and find a way to accommodate it within your budget because it is, as you have pointed out correctly, subject to some abuse.
“It appears that in some cases we have seen that ministries actually aggregate things and push it to Service Wide Votes. We don’t think that is the right way to go.
“ We are now pushing agencies back that you cannot use service wide votes, go and find something else to use or go and find a way in your budget. We think that the service wide votes should be the last resort and that there is no other place that this money could be taken from and therefore we use service wide votes.
“We are going to strengthen the controls, the point around how the service wide vote is used is a very valid one and it is something that we are now conscious about.
Over time, you would see that as the budgeting plan improves, the service wide vote should actually reduce because we should be able to apportion many of these costs to the specific ministries,” she said.
The minister, who is responsible for signing releases from the service wide votes, explained to the committee that the money was not a budget within the budget.
According to her, the vote is a contingency which every good budget should have because there will always be unforeseen events that need to be accommodated.
She said that there were service wide initiatives and costs which could not readily be ascribed to a single ministry, such as payment for transfers to the Treasury Single Account.
Adeosun disclosed that upon agreement on a reasonable amount with all stakeholders, the company providing the TSA service will be paid for the service wide vote.
She explained that payments from the votes were raised by the Director-General, Budgets, while the warrants were signed by the Minister of Finance.
Members of the senate committee had earlier raised eyebrows on the management of the votes, querying whose responsibility it was to account for the money.
They had decried that the money which was usually huge, was often spent but that no proper account was given on how it was spent.
The committee therefore charged the minister to ensure prudent management of the funds, adding that all expenditure from it must be fully defended at the end of the fiscal year.
Reported By NAN