LAGOS, Nigeria; 4th July 2018
Civic organisation, BudgIT has denounced the insertion of an alarming number of micro-projects into the 2018 budget by the National Assembly. According to BudgIT, “there has been a masking and insertion of several opaque items with little or no bearing on the economy by the National Assembly”. These projects do not fall within the core scope of the Federal Government.
A recent analysis by BudgIT shows that approximately 6, 529 new projects valued at N579.08bn was inserted into the 2018 budget by the National Assembly. Out of the 6529 new projects entered into the budget, 90.6% or 5918 items have a unit value below N200m. Also, the projects cannot be directly linked to the written, medium-term aspirations of the government as highlighted in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
An analysis of the inserted projects shows that N63.64bn or approximately 11% of the new projects added by the National Assembly will be spent on various training and capacity building programmes in 2018. Given that the budget will be largely funded by borrowings (as highlighted in the 2018 fiscal plan), it is disheartening to discover that most of the identified line items therein show a significant disconnect from the developmental goals of government, as stated in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
The organisation also points out that the new projects inserted into the budget are fragmented, and budget line items are accompanied with vague descriptions that will prove difficult to monitor or track in physical and auditing terms. It is equally essential for the National assembly to explain the rationale behind the increased allocations to itself as such cannot be justified given the abysmal distribution to the education and health sector, considering that National Assembly increased its budgetary allocation from N125bn to N139.5bn.
BudgIT also observed that projects valued at N13.16bn were cancelled altogether without detailed explanation by the national assembly. Some of the critical projects removed from the 2018 budget included N200.3m meant to settle arrears under the national telephony programme, N100 million allocated for the Establishment of an ICT university and the N1.2bn allocated under the proposed budget for the construction of the Zauro polder irrigation project. Equally shocking is the fact that allocation to over 4,621 projects were reduced by approximately N318.89 bn without citations.
BudgIT welcomes the addition of N55.15bn to the health sector under the National Health Act. While the amount falls short of the 1% consolidated revenue fund ( above N70bn), we see the allocation as the critical starting point and urge Nigerians and critical stakeholders to monitor its implementation.
It is essential for 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. We also believe that there will be a more in-depth interrogation of the extent of the powers of the National Assembly and how such powers are exercised with great responsibility.