The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the salaries committee to review payroll and also review the number of federal agencies.

The government will also remove some redundant items from the budget as a move to cut the cost of governance in the country.

Ahmed disclosed this at the ongoing ‘National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria’ held in Abuja on Tuesday.

The programme was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC).

The government had approved N13.88trn budget with a deficit of over N5.6trn. The government projected revenue of N7.98trn to fund part of the 2021 budget.

“We still see government expenditure increase to a terrain twice higher than our revenue,” Ahmed said.

The Minister said all agencies must trim cost amid the country’s dwindling revenue.

She said, “We need to work together – all agencies of the government – to cut down our cost. We need to cut down unnecessary expenditures. Expenditures that we can do without.

“Our budgets are filled year in year out with projects that we see over and over again and also projects that are not necessary.

“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.”

She said the Federal Government would also review the number of government agencies in terms of their mandates.

The Chairman of the ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, noted during the stakeholders meeting that the cost of governance is the “driver of corruption in Nigeria.”

He said the government has committed to improving the country’s revenue from new and existing sources.

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”.

He also lamented the duplication of projects such as the constituency projects of lawmakers. The ICPC boss said funding for such projects are usually released without any mechanism for monitoring and evaluation and reconciliation.

He cited a project executed by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, which was dubiously captured in government records as a federal government project.

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