Out of the N350bn set aside for capital spending in the first and second quarters of this year, about N109bn has been released by the Federal Government to various contractors.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, gave the figure on Monday during Channels Television’s Sunrise programme, which was monitored by our correspondent in Abuja.
She said while the government had made provisions for the funds, which she stated were ready for disbursement, the bottlenecks associated with the public procurement process were affecting their speedy release.
The minister said, “N109bn out of the N350bn has already been disbursed. The funds are ready. However, there are procedural delays due to the required public procurement processes.
“The selection process, however, allows for many new capable companies to participate in the process and get involved in the Federal Government’s projects.”
The minister, who also said some state governments had not published any form of financial account in the last six years, described their lack of transparency as unacceptable.
Adeosun said there was a need for government at all levels to show greater transparency and accountability in the area of public financial management, adding that this was why the Federal Government came up with the idea of the Fiscal Sustainability Plan.
The FSP is one of the financial management reform programmes endorsed by the state governments and is expected to be completed over an 18-month period.
The minister said, “We need to improve the transparency around the management of public finance at every level, including at the states. If there is transparency, you will know how much the salary bill is. Some of the reforms look innocuous but they are fundamental. Let’s have better accountability and transparency.
“We need to start publishing our accounts. Some states have not published any financial account for six years to seven years. It’s unacceptable. This is public money, you must give account of what it is spent on. All this issue of how much was spent on security vote and food becomes a non-issue.”
Adeosun stated that as a result of the drop in allocations from the Federation Account Allocation Committee, the Federal Government had widened its definition of Internally Generated Revenue to the states.
“Many states are relying on FAAC allocations; we want our states to be fiscally sustainable,” she added.
On the issue of the audit of government payroll, the minister explained that since she assumed office in November last year, the Ministry of Finance had been able to reduce the government payroll by N6.6bn monthly.
She said the government was able to achieve the reduction through the assignment given to the Continuous Audit Team to clean up the payroll.
Adeosun stated,” We have been saving N6.6bn on a monthly basis. This is all about good housekeeping.
“The Efficiency Units have already had success with travel, food, sitting allowance and they will now look at adverts. We are all aware of the efforts in plugging leakages and recoveries.”
The minister expressed optimism that Nigeria would surmount its economic challenge, adding that higher revenue collection and the greater sharing of non-oil earnings had shown that the reforms had started producing results.