N450 billion earmarked for ghost workers, fake projects in Buhari’s 2021/2022 budget: ICPC

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has revealed that ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) padded the 2021 budget to the tune of N300 billion. The padding was carried out by duplicating projects, shooting the budget to N13.59 trillion.

The anti-corruption agency disclosed that the MDAs also padded the 2022 budget with duplicated projects amounting to N100 billion, increasing the current year’s budget to N17.12 trillion; aside from the N49.9 billion discovered as salaries for ghost workers between January and June 2022.

ICPC chairman Bolaji Owasannoye stated this in Abuja on Thursday.

He made the submissions at an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Finance on the 2022-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

He stated that the ICPC discovered the project duplication and budget padding for the two years during scrutiny of projects approved for the various MDAs.

“Three hundred billion naira would have been wasted by the federal government on duplicated projects inserted into the 2021 budget. The federal government would have wasted another N100 billion in the 2022 budget if not tracked and intercepted by the ICPC,” stated Mr Owasannoye. “The same pre-emptive move saved the country from spending N49.9 billion on payment of salaries to ghost workers inserted into payrolls by the fraudulent MDAs between January and June this year.

“Names of MDAs involved in projects duplication and fictitious payrolls are available and will be forwarded to the committee.”

The ICPC chief further explained that the anti-graft agency’s interception prevented the funds from being released to the MDAs.

“It is gratifying that the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General’s Office cooperated with us,” he noted.

The ICPC chairman advised relevant committees of the National Assembly to look out for project duplication in the proposed N19.76 trillion 2023 budget.

“From our own end, detection of such projects is done by verifying their locations and names, upon which we tell the appropriate authorities not to release wrongly budgeted monies,” added Mr Owasannoye.

Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos West), the committee chair, assured that ICPC’s operational cost would be increased from the current N1.8 billion.

“This committee is impressed by the proactive ways your commission has adopted in the fight against corruption. Your submissions clearly show that all hopes are not lost for our dear country as far as fighting corruption is concerned,” Mr Adeola stated. “Your operational cost, which is N1.8 billion, will be increased as required impetus for more proactive measures against corrupt practices across the various MDAs.”

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