Virement: A Consequential Rule

A Growing Menace in the Civil Service – Kuforiji, E. O. (Ag. Head, CRIN Internal Audit)

Virement: A Consequential Rule

The Acting Head, Internal Audit of CRIN, Mr. E.O. Kuforiji gave a lowdown on the topical issue; virement. According to him, once budget has been prepared and approved, spending is expected to be in accordance with approved expenditure heads. Transfer of a surplus from one budget expenditure head to cover a deficit in another budget expenditure head or offsetting overspending in one account with underspending from another account is what is termed virement. It results in budget reallocation.

Virement is a common pitfall in Financial Regulations. This is because estimates computed for which appropriation was made may not often be accurate for most budget expenditure heads. Cost fluctuations arising from time lag between budget preparation, budget approval and eventual budget execution plus other unforeseen contingencies are most times responsible for this. It then becomes a concern how to satisfy every project surfing between account heads for holistic budget performance.

Stressing further, he averred that while virement is recognized as a form of finance control in budget, it is worthy to note however, that Financial Regulations are not meant to transform officers in the civil service into robots. As a result, there is an ample scope to make judgments and apply initiatives in the application of rules and procedures as long as these are legitimate and defensible.

In content and in context, virement as a rule is clear and consequential. The windows of virement warrants as appropriate are available as authorities to effect fund transfer where these are considered expedient to achieve effectiveness and efficiency in execution of government approved projects. For recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure, virement warrant and development fund virement warrants, respectively, are authorities that can be sought in these regards.

Concluding, he advocated that in the ongoing financial management reforms by government, budget reallocation should be made more flexible to allow for overall value maximization within government economic entities.

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