428 Nigeria Agencies cash trapped, can’t pay workers’ salaries month end

The Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, has said about 428 government agencies will not be able to pay salaries by the end of November.

Akabueze stated this when he appeared before Senate Committee on Public Accounts in an interface on Tuesday.

He hinged the development on the new minimum wage.
He however said that Federal government will need to fund from the servicewide vote in order to cater for the shortfall in Civil Servants salaries for November.

According to him: “Four hundred and twenty-eight agencies will not be able to pay salary by the end of November.

“We take from Servicewide vote to take care of the shortfall in workers salaries.”

Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Mathew Urhoghide, accused the Executive of deliberately underfunding the Office of Auditor General of the Federation.

The Chairman wondered how an agency that is meant to fight institutional corruption be underfunded by the Executive, while the other agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission are properly funded.

Urhoghide said: “The continued underfunding of the Office of Auditor General of the Federation is constitutionally charged with the responsibility of ensuring transparency, accountability and probity in governance.

“Therefore, the proposed budget of N4.6 billion may not be adequate for the audit of the sum of N13 trillion in the year 2021 being total budget proposal of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“The Office of the Auditor General for the Federation is in need of replacing 247 retired staff, which has not been provided for in the budget proposal.

“The promotion and annual increment of staff are also not factored into the year 2021 budget.

“There is need to digitalise and automate the system for better performance.
“The Auditor-General’s budget proposal for this purpose was not approved by the Budget Office.

“It is an irony that while the office which is constitutionally established to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public funds of the federation is having a reduced allocation, similar agencies established to achieve a fraction of this objective are well funded through incremental budgetary allocations.”

Responding to issue of under funding of the Office of Auditor General of Federation,  Akabueze explained to the lawmakers that the Budget Office will only appropriate fund to the Office of Auditor General of Federation based on extant laws.

He said since his emergence as the Director General of Budget Office, there has been an improvement in the budget of the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.

He said when it comes to capital budget, the Budget Office is guided by the approved budget for those agencies.

He said the government could give any approval for the requirement in 2020 due to COVID-19, adding that it is illogical for government to recruit during the pandemic.
He said the sectors that did not shut down recruitment during the COVID-19 were health and security.

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