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Zainab Ahmed: FG targets payroll review to reduce cost of governance

Ahmed said the federal government intends to remove some unnecessary items from the budget in order to cut the cost of governance in the country.

The federal government says it has directed the National Salaries, Incomes & Wages Commission (NSIWC) to review salaries of civil servants and some federal agencies.

Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, announced this at a policy dialogue on corruption and cost of governance in Nigeria, organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) in Abuja on Tuesday.

She urged all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government to come together to trim the cost of governance amid dwindling revenue.

We still see government expenditure increase to a terrain twice higher than our revenue.

Ahmed said the federal government intends to remove some unnecessary items from the budget in order to cut the cost of governance in the country.

“We still see government expenditure increase to a terrain twice higher than our revenue. The nation’s budgets are filled every year with projects that are recycled over and over again and are also not necessary,” the minister said.

“Mr President has directed that the salaries committee that I chair, work together with the Head of Service and other members of the committee to review the government payrolls in terms of stepping down on cost.”

Ahmed further said the federal government will also review the number of government agencies in terms of their mandates, adding that it also plans to merge two agencies with the same mandate.

Ben Akabueze, director-general of the budget office, said high recurrent spending, allocated towards salaries and running costs, has accounted for more than 75 percent of the public budget every year since 2011.

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He said this has constrained investment in capital projects meant to improve the standard of living.

In his remarks, Bolaji Owasanoye, ICPC chairman, said the federal government is committed towards improving the country’s revenue from new and existing sources by streamlining payroll and ensuring that removal of subsidies, and reduction of the cost of contracts and procurement for the benefits of the vulnerable.

He identified payroll padding, the phenomenon of ghost workers, and abuse of recruitment as critical areas of concern in governance cost.

Owasanoye also lamented the duplication of projects, adding that funding for such projects are usually released without any mechanism for monitoring and evaluation and reconciliation of the disbursements.

BudgIT, a civic-tech non-profit organisation, said it recently uncovered 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget.

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