Reps to set up budget monitoring team to oversee NISER budget implementation

•Threaten zero allocation over unsatisfactory budget performance

The House of Representatives has unveiled plans to set up a budget monitoring team that will superintend on Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER) budget.

Chairman, House Committee on National Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Abdulganiyu Olododo disclosed this during the 2020 budget performance and 2021 budget defence of the Institute, expressed grave concern over the conflicting presentations made by NISER Director-General, Dr Folarin Gbadebo Smith and Director Finance.

Hon. Olododo who directed the NISER management “to go back and do research on the staff,” argued that “there’s no synergy between the DG and his staff.

“It’s disheartening and sad to see that a research institute of NIRSER standing cannot sit down and present a seamless budget defence before the parliament because the management staff are not on the same page.

“I want to state here that a committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of the budget and the impact the activities of the Institute have on the Nigerian economy.

“We can’t accept anything less, because this 9th Assembly is made of serious-minded people and our people are suffering and will continue to suffer if agencies like yours, whose mandate is to provide guidance to government on the socio-economic growth of our country,” he noted.

Worried by the inconsistencies in the Director General’s presentation, Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Wole Oke urged the Committee “to place the agency on oath.”

In his presentation, the NISER Director-General argued that the 19 young Nigerians who were recruited in 2019 are yet to be paid their salaries more than one year after, despite the sum of N603,333,128 appropriated for personnel cost, fully released and utilized as at date.

Dr Smith alleged that despite the fact that the Director-General of Budget Office of the Federation signed on a mandate, nothing has happened.

“I still went back and was told the DG budget has to still counter-sign in 2020 since this is a new accounting year. But as we speak, nothing has happened,” he argued.

While responding to the utilization of the personnel cost released to the Institute, Dr Smith explained that the releases were used promptly as they were cash-backed.

However, in his presentation, the NISER Director of Finance informed the Committee that the 19 new staff were employed in 2019 and captured in the 2020 budget proposal, adding that “they are only being captured in the 2021 budget which explains the difference between the two documents before the committee.”

Worried by the incoherence in the presentations of the NISER Director-General and the Director of Finance, Hon. Olododo submitted that: “There is no harmonious working relationship among your agency’s management Staff if you the DG would come for budget defence and begin to receive briefings from your Staff before answering questions.

“If you don’t put your act together, we will reject this budget. We cannot take this attitude from your agency, because this is the kind of behaviour that’s causing youth restiveness and protest all over the place.”

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