The Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Federal Ministry of Finance, Dr. Mohammed Dikwa, on Tuesday said, the Federal Government was able to save N500billion by plugging leakages and wastages in the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
Dr. Dikwa stated this when he received in audience in his office the Alumni of National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Abuja Chapter.
He told the visiting Alumni that most of the achievements were recorded under his leadership at the Presidential Initiative for Continuous Audit (PICA), which he attributed to the experience gotten from NIPSS.
“If you recall, over the last four years, this administration has put in place a lot of policies on ground and I am part of the financial policies put in place at the Ministry of Finance.
“I headed most of the reforms at the Ministry of Finance for the past four years. There are tangible results we have gotten over the years.
“One of the fundamental achievements was saving the government over N500billion from leakages and wastages under my leadership at PICA.
“If the initiative was not in place, this amount of money we are talking about would have been spent by MDAs. It was because of this initiative that was put in place that we were able to save that money from treasury looters,” he said.
The primary focus of PICA is to put systems and frameworks in place over finance and spending of government revenue. The goal is to maximize the utilization of the resources through continuous assurance, so as to ensure that requirements for improved efficiency, effectiveness and accountability are met.
The Permanent Secretary said: “we have also put in place so many other measures like the Whistle-blowing Policy. The Whistle-blowing Policy was initiated under my Chairmanship in PICA.
“We were able to succeed not only from recoveries, but stopped people from doing the wrong things as far as the government circle was concern.
“When we came up with the policy, an average of 11, 000 tips were received on a monthly basis, but now, we hardly receive 20 to 30 tips simply because people have reduced the wrong doing in government.
“Before, funds are released to MDAs for specific purpose, but before you know, the money would be diverted into other things, and nobody knows.
“The external auditors will not know, so we came in between the external and internal audit to ensure that the money that is being released into MDAs are spent for that purpose, and we held all the Account Officers accountable for every kobo released to them.”
PICA in March, 2018 said, the Federal Government recovered over N144.89 billion from corrupt officials through the implementation of the Whistle-blowing Policy.
Dr. Dikwa noted that “another was Fiscal Sustainability Plan which I headed. A plan that was extended to states and local governments because there was this cry from the states and local governments that all our policies were concentrated at the Federal level and not being extended to states and local governments, so we came up with Fiscal Sustainability Plan.
“We gave 22 conditions to the states and local governments as an incentive for them to get a kind of support from the Federal Government, provided they are following these 22 conditions.
“One of these conditions was to ensure that they publish every expenditure they had through their websites and other publications; their allocations, what comes to the states monthly and budget process.
“And that they should also have continuous audit extended to all the agencies they have as well as the Whistle-blowing Policy. The major thing is to ensure transparency and accountability in the states and local governments. This has made the states buoyant.
“Prior to this, about 20 states were unable to pay their salaries, hence the bailout funds, budget support facility from the Federal Government. However, now, most of the states can pay their salaries and meet their capital spending.
“I was the one who champion these policies before I became a Permanent Secretary,” he said.
Earlier, the Head of the Delegation, Dr. Mobolaji Olowo, said the team paid a courtesy call on Dr. Dikwa, who is a member of the Alumni to congratulate him on his appointment as a Permanent Secretary and the recent award for Nelson Mandela for Public Service he received.
“We are here to pay a courtesy call on our member to congratulate him on his appointment as a Permanent Secretary and recent award for Nelson Mandela for Public Service,” she said.
Dr. Olowo also presented an award on behalf of the Alumni to Dr. Dikwa in recognition of his excellent performance.
Amaka E. Nliam