Approximately 43 per cent of capital allocation in Nigeria’s 2018 proposed budget has no direct impact on citizens, says BudgIT. In an analysis made available on Tuesday, BudgIT noted that approximately N744.48billion or 42.9 per cent of the N2.65trillion capital allocation will go into administrative items which includes the procurement of cars, retrofitting of government offices, trainings, consultancies, purchase of furniture and computers, among others.
The firm decries the masking of several opaque administrative items as capital projects, given that the funds marked for capital expenditure will be largely borrowed (as highlighted in the proposed 2018 budget), and has called for proper interrogation from all stakeholders.
They highlighted the importance of the National Assembly and Executive to significantly reduce the administrative component of the budget and direct funds towards improving education, health and other critical infrastructure.
BudgIT suggested that the scope of developmental capital projects as urgently needed should include the acquisition, upgrading, construction and maintaining of physical assets such as hospital, schools, roads, railways, power plants, street lights, boreholes among others, rather than administrative capital items are projects that cannot be easily accessed by the general public and have very little or no developmental impact on the population.
In BudgIT’s quest to raise the standard of transparency and accountability in government, they notice the fragmentation of capital items as 94.7% of the 9331 line capital items in the 2018 proposed budget have monetary values below N500million each.
These capital items are accompanied with vague descriptions that will prove difficult to monitor or track in physical and auditing terms.
“Only 26% of capital allocations to the ministries of health, education, agriculture, transportation, Niger Delta, water resources, science, works, power and housing are trackable, and/or can be directly linked to the written, medium-term aspirations of the government as highlighted in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
Across the board, a significant amount of capital allocated in the 2018 budget falls under certain generically-named items, which have no detailed description and do not communicate the number of beneficiaries of such items.
It is common to find the following entries in the budget of every Ministry, Department and Agency of government: – Welfare packages, sporting activities, drugs and medical supplies, medical expenses, software acquisition, monitoring and evaluation, budget preparation, access to credit, food & agricultural policies, budget preparation and international training, etc.
This system of budgeting with “one-liners” without details, gives room for financial indiscretion and the potential abuse of funds. It is antithetical to what the government continually professes to stand for.
Most crucial is that the Federal Government is yet to come out plainly on the amount spent on capital items in the 2016 and 2017 financial years.
While the ministry of finance repeatedly claims a sum totaling N1.2tn has been released, the budget implementation reports released by the budget office of the Federation show otherwise.
Repeated letters to seek clarification on details of the projects funded have not been honored by the Ministry of Finance. We place on record the disdain shown by the ministry of finance for accountability.
“It is disheartening to discover that most line items therein show a great disconnect from the developmental goals of government, as stated in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
In a pre-election year, we would have expected that capital projects will be solely devoted to projects with direct developmental impact on the larger population.
We have seen several items included in the capital budget that should ordinarily have been excluded given the tight fiscal condition and meagre economic growth.
Most of the administrative capital items as shown in our research analysis will benefit less than one per cent of its populace – politicians and civil servants.”