SGF appears before Senate, defends N9.88b budget proposal
• Panel commends FG for adequately funding MDAs
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, yesterday appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs to defend his office’s budget.
Lawal, who was supposed to appear before the committee last week, explained to senators that he was absent because he went to console the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, who lost his wife.
The SGF’s appearance before the committee, which lasted for about 45 minutes, was attended by the Chairman, Senator Tijjani Kaura (APC, Zamfara North), who presided, and his deputy, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North).
Lawal said his office proposed a total of N9.882, 782, 935 billion for this year. Out of the said amount, he said the sum of N3, 408, 763, 591, was proposed for payment of personnel costs; N3, 781, 628, 226 for overhead, a figure that showed an increase of N2 billion compared to 2016 appropriation.
According to him, the amount proposed for overheads would be used for funding the activities and programmes of other offices headed by the permanent secretaries in the OSGF, and activities and programmes of political office holders such as the special advisers, and senior special assistants to the President.
He also stated that his office also voted N2, 692, 391, 118 for capital projects for the year 2017, stressing that funds appropriated to the office of the OSGF in the 2016 budget was grossly inadequate to meet some of the responsibilities of the office.
In their separate responses, members of the committee, agreed that the 10 per cent release by the ministry of finance for the SGF’s office in 2016 was insufficient, particularly against the backdrop of what was proposed.
The amount, they said, was an indication that there is a problem between the budget office and ministry of finance that must be tackled.
Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi however, commended the Federal Government for adequate funding of MDAs in 2016, but said the committee would investigate the poor release to the OSGF.
Drawing the attention of the SGF to the non-payment of former presidents, Senator Hunkuyi demanded to know if this was captured in the 2017 budget.
In his response, the SGF disclosed that the allowances for former president were sufficiently covered in the 2017 budget proposal.