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Thursday, 30 January 2014

EXPOSED: The Okonjo-Iweala's Scandalous 2014 Budget

One of the key functions the National Assembly are expected to dwell on is the consideration and passage of the 2014 budget proposal as present by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the Executive. Below are the sad details:
Apparently, our State House functions as an integrated town that must have every facility within. After all it has its own church (chapel) and mosque and even a zoo where N8m would be spent to upgrade and maintain it and an additional sum of N14.5m would be spent to purchase two beasts, all for the pleasure of its privileged patrons. And this is after we budgeted N7.5m for wildlife conservation in the State House last year. [Pure MADNESS]! 
Still in the State House, there is plan to spend N76.3m to purchase ‘crested cutlery, flatware and glassware’. Now, isn’t that too much to spend on those items, for a State House that has existed for years and been playing host to several dinners? We don’t dispose of dinnerware on a yearly basis, do we? 
General maintenance in the State House will cost N1.19b of which N138.9 will go for motor vehicle and transport equipment maintenance, N907m for office and residential building maintenance; N17.4m for office furniture maintenance and N40m to maintain office and IT equipment (that comes to spending more than N3m each month to maintain office and IT equipment in the office of the president).
Recalling that only last year, we budgeted N90.9m for this item, it is bewildering why we plan to spend so much this year. Yet, this is aside N188.3m to be spent on office stationery and computer consumables (for which we budgeted N507.9m last year).
It is hoped this exposé will help our parliamentarians make informed decisions when considering the budget:

One way to look at the budget is to consider what each of the heads and figures allocated means for our country and its development. Here are a few of those queries.

The first observation to make is that the budget proposal allocates 76.3% to recurrent expenditure and just 23.7% to capital expenditure. One interpretation of this is that the budget is meant to just keep the country and its institutions running with nothing spectacular to show for. A budget focused on massive development of infrastructure would assign more to capital rather than to recurrent which covers personnel and overhead costs.

About 42 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) will spend more on their recurrent than on capital and in some instances the difference is so huge. Here are a few cases: 
The Ministry of Interior which is expected to spend N144.7b in recurrent and just N6.29b on capital; Police formation and commands, N285.5b and N6.79b; Education including UBEC, N443.9b and N49.5b and Health, N216.4b and N46.3b.

Zeroing in on the Interior Ministry’s budget shows that the Prisons Service would spend N45.2b on recurrent and a mere N2.3b on capital. With such lopsided allocation, it is doubtful if our prisons infrastructure would be revamped from their current state of dilapidation and dehumanisation this year. 
Equally difficult to carry out would be construction of new prisons to decongest the present number, even as the country has just signed a deal with the UK that might see the repatriation of more than 600 Nigerians serving jail terms in the UK to come home to complete their sentences.

But why is the recurrent expenditure so huge? 
Perhaps we should look at what typically appears under the recurrent expenditure, particularly under the overhead costs. Here are a few of such expenditure heads which need more explanation to the Nigerian public. What do we mean by ‘Welfare packages’, which will gulp as much as N40.4m in the headquarters of the Ministry of Water Resources? Please note that the said figure is not for the entire ministry and agencies under it, rather for the headquarters. Welfare package typically appears in the budget of every MDA and one wonders who audits this spending. How is the money disbursed, to whom and under what circumstances? Who determines the quantum to be disbursed in every office? Under what rules of engagement or laws did we turn our government offices to welfare package disbursers? This budget head is one that needs to be checked or discouraged as it is susceptible to abuse and corruption.

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