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Senate indicts own committee over fresh budget padding

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The Senate yesterday uncovered a fresh budget padding of over N10 billion. The discovery was made during the consideration of its Finance Committee’s report on the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)  budget.
The Senate indicted its Committee on Finance of collusion in the oversight function.
The budget proposal was submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Senate in July this year. Shocked by the fresh discoveries, the lawmakers did not pass the budget.

The Red Chamber did not pass the budget, citing the N146,165,108, 293  and the shoddy exercise of its committee, headed by Senator John Enoh from Cross River State.
Lawmakers also blamed the rejection on ambiguous figures and questionable inclusion of capital projects, which they said have become a yearly ritual.
For instance, FIRS budgeted N960 million to buy computer equipment, N1.560 billion for purchase of office equipment, while N440 million would go into supplies of office materials.
Similarly, office maintenance is to gulp N530 million while N170  million was budgeted for maintenance of office generator.
According to the committee’s report, N700 million was budgeted for fueling of utility vehicles, while N750 million was earmarked for the purchase of fuel to  power generating sets.
The agency also budgeted N586 million for refreshment. N200 million was budgeted for sporting activities.

About N446 million would  be spent on training, while N885 million will go into payment of rents for offices. Electricity will gulp N500 million, while telephone calls will take N320 million. Internet connection is expected to gulp N300 million and office fumigation taking a princely  N750 million.
The Senate, while going through the committee’s report, discovered that almost every item listed as part of capital expenditures were captured in the 2015 budget of the agency.
Earlier in the year, the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives and the executive had a major fallout over claims that lawmakers connived with some civil servants to pad the budget.
The controversy eventually led to the sack of the House Chairman on Appropriation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin. The padding delayed the passage of the budget until the end of April.
But Senator Enoh’s committee is, however, expected to reflect observations made by lawmakers in the report and revert within one week from yesterday.

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