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42% of proposed 2018 budget not useful to the people, laments BudgIT
Administrative items such buying of cars, retrofitting of government offices, trainings, consultancies, and purchase of furniture and computers make up at least 42 percent of the capital expenditure in the 2018 budget, BudgIT. a civic organisation, has lamented.
In its analysis of the budget, BudgIT showed that approximately N744.48bn or 42.9% of the N2.65tn capital allocation will go to these administrative items.
“BudgIT decries the masking of several opaque administrative items as capital projects just to shore up the percentage of capital component in the 2018 budget,” the organisation said in a press statement made available to ICIR by Abiola Afolabi, its Communications Lead.
These administrative items, it said, will not have direct impact on the citizens.
“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 1% of the populace — politicians and civil servants.”
BudgIT noted that most line items in capital budgets show a great disconnect from the developmental goals of government, as stated in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), adding that funds marked for capital expenditure would be largely borrowed as highlighted in the proposed 2018 budget.
“Our 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. In contrast, 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.”
BudgIT also noted the fragmentation of capital items, as 94.7% of the 9,331 line capital items in the 2018 proposed budget have monetary values below N500m each and 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 and agricultural policies, budget preparation and international training etc.”
Budgit pointed out that this system of budgeting with “one-liners” without details, gives room for financial indiscretion and the potential abuse of funds.
The organisation also observed that the Federal Government is yet to come out plainly on the amounts spent on capital items in the 2016 and 2017 financial years.
It accused the Ministry of Finance for showing disdain for accountability, as the ministry failed to disclose the details of the expenditure despite repeated inquiries.
BudgIT urged lawmakers and members of executive arm to significantly reduce the administrative component of the budget and direct funds towards improving education, health and other critical infrastructure.