Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, has called for reorientation of Nigerians to understanding the benefits of zero-based budgeting (ZBB).

According to her, the reorientation of the people is critical to the preparation of the 2017 budget.

Ahmed made the call at the inauguration of a five-day Specialised Reforms/SERVICOM Training Programme in Abuja on Monday.

I hope you will take a part in the 2017 budget preparation to help us to re-orient people to see the benefits in using ZBB process.

It is simply a budgeting method that is designed to achieve better efficiency and to reduce wastages.

At the time when our revenues have dwindled to an all-time low, it is very important for us to continue to make savings so that what is saved is utilised in manners that will improve welfare of our people.

We also have put in place a continuous audit process that will be tracking the payroll on a regular basis to make sure that payroll is cleaned up and we don't have ghost workers on the payroll, so that we are not paying money that would have been used for other productive

She said ZBB was a method of budgeting whereby all expenses must be justified for each new period.

According to her, zero-based budgeting starts from a zero base and every function within an organisation is analysed for its needs and costs.

Ahmed also stressed the need federal the civil servants to key into the ongoing reforms with a view to championing the change agenda of the Buhari administration.

She noted that civil servants constitute an important tool for enhancing growth and machinery for executing government development projects.

So if the service works, government is doing well in the service and if the service doesn't work very well, then government will do very poorly.

This administration came to into being on the mantra of change.

The change, of course, starts from within the service; it starts with you who are the reforms coordinators and who are the champions of change of this administration.

You are a very important set of people; change is difficult and it is not an easy thing for people to do but somehow, you have to make sure that you lead your MDAs to the desired reforms so that each MDA will maximally achieve its mandate.

We have a need to continue improve on efficiency of service delivery.

By doing that, we may need to review all of our existing processes, mark them, identify where you have weakness and the gaps and duplication.

So that we make corrections and we will have cleaner, simpler processes to implement and therefore measurement of results become an easier process and more productive one.''

Earlier, Dr Joe Abah, the Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, said the government had achieved remarkable progress in some of its policies and programmes.

Abah said the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and ZBB had improved the budgeting processes apart from blocking leakage.

He said government had also recorded improvement in the power sector in terms of hours of supply daily.

We have experienced reforms in the power sector and for the first time, we have a clear road map.

Also, there is improvement in transport sector as emphasis is now on rail transport system.'' (NAN)

Laurence Bradford loves owning her own business. She doesnt love being at the mercy of clients who pay bills when its convenient for them, not for her.

Bradford sells and teaches an online course in computer programming. The 26-year-old cheerfully works 12-hour days growing her business, making money both by selling her product and from sales commissions generated by her website.

But cash comes in irregularly. In November 2015, she earned $2,400 in commissions when her website sent customers to an online store. The company that runs the online store usually takes 60 days to pay, but she didnt receive any money in January. In February, it told her the check was lost and would be replaced. Bradford was forced to pay her bills in February by transferring money from her small savings account, sweating a 12-hour negative balance until the funds from the replacement check cleared. Money worries jolted her awake at night and woke her up in the morning. It can be terrifying, she says.

More than 15 million Americans are self-employed, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. A recent JPMorgan Chase Institute report, Paychecks, Paydays, and the Online Platform Economy (PDF), found that 55 percent of people experienced changes in income of more than 30 percent on a month-to-month basis.

Being your own boss has its advantages -- freedom, flexibility, and a sense of ownership. But it can also cause cash flow problems when checks dont arrive or work dries up unexpectedly.

Personal finance expert Kathy Kristof says late invoices and work slowdowns are inevitable. Like property tax payments or insurance premiums, theyre irregular financial upsets that you ought to expect, she says.

Kristof recommends saving at least six months worth of living expenses before venturing out to work for yourself. Plan for a long stretch of things not working out like you expected them to, she says.

Thats something Bradford learned the hard way. Some of her clients are small companies that pay whenever an accountant gets around to cutting checks. Others pay on a 60-day schedule, which can be tough on freelancers: Bradford earned $5,800 in January, but she wont see that money until early April.

Bradford, whos been self-employed since the summer of 2013, did very well for two years. When she started working for herself, she lived in her hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where her basic monthly expenses were as low as $300. Thats when she started her business,, which initially brought in anywhere from $200 to $500 each month.

In August 2015, Bradford relocated to Boston to move in with her boyfriend -- a decision that knocked her finances sideways. She spent $1,000 on the move, then put down $6,000 -- most of her savings -- as a security deposit and advance rent for their new apartment. The next month, her course and website brought in $3,500. But things didnt go as planned: She only made $300 in October.

Bradford budgets by cutting spending to the bone. She doesnt shop for new clothes and has done away with almost all treats, including manicures, eating in restaurants, and going out at night. Her boyfriend has covered their rent since October, but she pays their other monthly bills, and her cash cushion from Bethlehem is down to about $500. Bradford used credit cards to keep her business going and went into debt for the first time in her life. Her new plan is to save during the good months so I can cover everything in the slower months.

There are other ways for freelancers to budget. Personal finance author Beverly Harzog suggests income averaging -- taking last years earnings and dividing by 12 to get a sense of how much money youll make in a month, so you can plan your spending more carefully.

This makes income patterns, such as sales slowing down in summer but soaring during the holiday season, easier to identify. If youre aware of the up-and-down nature of your business, you can adjust your spending accordingly, says Harzog, herself a freelancer.

Despite Bradfords difficulties, shes happy with the choices shes made. Shell soon relaunch Portfolio Dojo, her course on web design and begin offering less expensive products like e-books and mini-courses. Her goal is to reach 100,000 readers and earn $10,000 a month by the end of 2016.

Until then, budgeting may be difficult, but Bradford has her expenses under control and says shes thrilled with her work. I love the emails I get from readers and I love how I have control over my schedule, Bradford says. I am head-over-heels in love with what I get to do every single day.

Ulster County Habitat for Humanity course offers home budgeting tips

More than 3,600 residents in the district represented by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) voted on how to spend $1.85 million in funding to improve their neighborhoods as the second season of Participatory Budgeting came to a close Monday.

The most popular project was the special needs playground for P4 at Skillman, which drew 1,437 votes.

The playground at 24-30 Skillman Ave. will receive a $250,000 upgrade, with customized equipment including slides, monkey bars, game boards and ramps. The playground at PS 112 will be resurfaced and its equipment upgraded after 1,169 voters decided to invest $500,000 in the second most popular project.

Basketball courts at the Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses will get $350,000 apiece, while $300,000 will go to a Dutch Kills pedestrian safety project and a final $100,000 will be allocated for bathroom repairs at PS 111.

The process began in the fall, when community members from Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Dutch Kills and Astoria gathered at neighborhood assemblies to brainstorm on capital improvement projects. Then 50 volunteer budget delegates winnowed down the list of hundreds of ideas into a number of real, implementable projects that made it onto the ballot.

Residents came together and said loud and clear how they wanted to spend our citys money, and every project they chose is a fantastic investment in our community, Van Bramer said. Because so many people made their voices heard, Ive decided to allocate an additional $800,000 over the $1 million promised so that residents can see these community improvements come to fruition. From school playgrounds and new basketball courts to bathroom upgrades and pedestrian safety, Im sure these projects will make our community a better and more vibrant place to live.

Participatory Budgeting wrapped up in Councilman Costa Constantinshy;ides district Monday as well, with Astoria Park coming out the big winner. Residents voted for a $500,000 water fountain project, while picnic and gaming tables will be installed as part of the second favorite project. Real Time Bus Countdown finished third so 24 clocks valued at $20,000 each will be installed on the M60, Q18, Q19, Q33, Q47, Q69, Q101, Q102, Q103 and Q104 bus lines.

The district has spoken, and we can see that residents value our parks and green spaces, as well as public transportashy;tion, the Astoria Democrat said. Astoria Park is the jewel of our community, and it will become an even better space for families throughout the neighborhood with these additional amenities.

Seeing all the efforts from our budget delegates and volunteers shows that Participatory Budgeting is democracy in action.

Residents from Astoria and parts of Woodside, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst took part. As with the winning projects from the previous cycle, city agencies will seek further community input, put together designs, and go through planning stages before construction begins.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 2604538.