Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has defended the grossly ‘padded’ 2016 budget as not being padded as it “did not exceed the N6.08 trillion official sum proposed by the government.”
In what has been described ad a very convoluted and misleading political campaign-like press release in Lagos, the Minister of information said:
“The total for every ministry has remained exactly the same as what was submitted to the National Assembly.
“A lot has been said about the budget. Let make clear that nobody can ever accuse this government of padding any budget.
“The total of all ministries put together has not exceeded N6.08 trillion that was submitted. It is factually incorrect to say that the budget was padded.
“This is the first time in the history of this country that a government will embark on what is called zero-based budget.
“Before now, the budget system was what was called an envelope system. In an envelope system, there is no justification as to why we need N30 billion for a structure.’’
“This year, we decide that every ministry must have a zero-based budget. In other word, you must justify and explain why you need N100 billion.
“This is very good system, the software for it was also very different. The personnel were not used to it.
“Now, in the process we got to National Assembly. What the ministers do is to have a broad overview of the budget. The template used by the Budget Office is uniform for all ministers.’’
Minister Lai Mohammed pointed out that exports, balance of trade, Gross Domestic Product were responsible for currency appreciation and depreciation. He said:
“Before now we use to sell crude for about 100 dollar per barrel which means if we produce two million barrels per day, you have something in the region of 200 million dollar less the expenditure of production and others.
“But today for the same two million barrels, you have less than 60 million dollar less the cost of production.’’
“Clearly if your major source of exchange is crude and it has gone down from 100 per cent, you have lost 70 per cent of your source.
“Secondly, if your balance of trade is surplus, in other word, if you export more than you import, then you are going to have less money to settle other countries.
“What the government is doing is to ensure that the little resources we have are properly managed. Part of decision we took was Treasury Single Account.
“Others include blocking all sort form of corruption and diversify economy so that we can get foreign exchange for other sources,’’ he said. (NAN)