The Nigerian government says it will review payroll of workers and number of government agencies, with the aim of reducing cost of governance.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed announced this at a National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria organized by the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) in Abuja, Nigeria.
Mrs Ahmed noted that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the salaries committee to carry out the review process.
“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 pay rolls in terms of stepping down on cost.”
According to her, “government expenditure is increasing to a terrain twice higher than our revenue.”
She revealed that the Federal Government would also review the number of government agencies in terms of their mandates pointing out that, government would consider merging agencies with similar mandate.
She said, “government had approved a N13.88trn budget with a deficit of over N5.6trn with a projected revenue of N7.98trn to fund part of the 2021 budget”.
The minister said all agencies must agree and come together to trim their costs given the country’s dwindling revenue.
According to her, “the government would also remove some unnecessary items from the budget as a move to cut the cost of governance in the country.
“Our budgets are filled year in year out with projects that we see over and over again and also projects that are not necessary.
In a remark, Chairman of the ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye identified the cost of governance as the “driver of corruption in Nigeria.”
He said the government had committed to improving the country’s revenue from new and existing sources.
Professor Owasanoye said the government’s commitment to streamline payroll, removal of subsidies and reduction of the cost of contracts and procurement are all for the benefits of the poor and vulnerable.
He said “a critical area of concern was payroll padding and the phenomenon of ghost workers.”
The ICPC boss lamented the duplication of projects especially constituency projects of lawmakers.
He said “funding for such projects was usually released without any mechanism for monitoring and evaluation and reconciliation of the funding.”
Director General Budget office of the federation Mr. Ben Akabueze delivered a keynote address on corruption and cost of governance while Professor Isaac Obasi of the Anti-corruption Academy of Nigeria ACAN gave highlights of the draft Policy consideration on corruption and cost of governance Policy Dialogue.