Senate probes Budget Office over N19bn illegal payment to MDAs

By Deborah Peter://

Senate yesterday commenced investigation of the Budget Office over alleged payment of N19billion illegally to four ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs.

The upper legislative chamber was particularly irked by the fact that the Director General of the agency, Ben Akabueze didn’t get the approval of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed for the expenditures to the benefiting MDAs

However, the Budget Office failed to appear before the Senate Public Accounts Committee, SPAC on the payment of N19billion to four agencies through verbal directive by the Director General in 2015.

The Senate panel, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South) hinged the Investigation of the Budget Office on the 2016 Auditor General’s Report which is currently being considered by the committee.

The Budget Office was supposed number one on the list of the agencies expected to respond to the Auditor General’s query, but failed to appear before the lawmakers.

The agency, in a written response to the query said, “The details of MDAs under the reference have not been provided to the usb to enable us respond appropriately.

“The Auditor In the 2016 report said, that four MDAs were paid the sum of N19 billion from the service wide vote without the approval of the Honorable Minister of Finance.

“Some of the payments were made on a purported verbal directive from the Director General.

“This Act is against Financial Regulations 301 and 302 which state that” recurrent expenditure is paid from CRF and no expenditure  may be incured except on the authority of a warrant issued by the Minister of Finance.

“The Director General should provide evidence of approval from the Ministry of Finance for these expenditures or recover the sum of N19 billion from benefiting MDAs.”

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