The Senate Committee on Appropriation announced yesterday that it has uncovered how some government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) secretly smuggled in over N1 trillion worth of projects into the N4.7 trillion fiscal estimate.
The alleged smuggled items may have pushed the 2012 fiscal estimate up to about N5.7 trillion.
In a statement made available to reporters, chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Ahmed Maccido, alleged that over 40 per cent of the projects were not captured in the budget presented to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan last year.
He said that these projects were smuggled into the budget by the MDAs and “we at the committee level would jettison them because they are not in the original budget”.
Although there are indications that the Senate may pass the budget before the end of the month, Senator Maccido, in the statement, insisted that the committee would subject the budget to a more thorough scrutiny in order to expunge all the unauthorised projects.
He stated: “The committee has discovered what we can call substantial changes in the 2012 budget .The committee would put the budget as presented by the MDGs and the president and expunge the unauthorised projects.
“The problem is that we are seeing projects that are not in the original version of the budget presented to us by President Goodluck Jonathan and substantial part of these projects is being smuggled into the budget by the MDGS and ministers.
“Over 40 per cent of the projects in the budget are not in the original budget. And we are saying no to the items so smuggled, which is over N1 trillion.
“So, we are right now comparing the budget as originally presented by the president and the version presented by the MDGS. Unless these projects are there in the original budget, we are going to scrap them. It’s no longer going to be business as usual.”
However, the development may have sent jitters down the spines of many ministers and heads of government agencies, even as the Senate has given marching order to its standing committees to submit their reports to the appropriation committee for necessary legislative action.
Spokesman of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe disclosed that the senate was ready to approve the budget before the end February.