Group laments Nigeria’s woeful performance in budget implementation

President Goodluck Jonathan

 half way into 2013, no major project has been done.

A budget monitoring group has said despite the treasure-chest of oil revenues and rising non-oil component, Nigerians are yet to see any giant leap in terms of social services, infrastructure, and economic development as well as job creation; because the Nigerian budget, highlighted over the years with its woeful performances, is structured with too little strategy to make any impact.

Already half way into 2013, no major project has been done to justify the targets the 2013 budget is opined to achieve, it argued.

BudgIT, an organisation driven to make the Nigerian budget and public data more understandable and accessible across every literacy span, in a report titled Retooling the Nigerian Budget, said the budget needs to be restructured for better results.

“A plethora of abandoned projects affirms the abdication of government responsibilities to citizens and shows that a significant number of these projects are devoid of objective impact analysis and are mostly undertaken on the basis of being either politically expedient or a ‘reflection of national character,” the firm said.

“We believe the Federal government should focus on getting the grand projects that serve as the big pipe for other projects to fit in. Nigeria has over 6,000 projects presently either as uncompleted or on-going and these projects will need over N7tn (in present values) to complete. Maximally utilising our capital projects in the next four years can’t finish these projects. Why start new projects?”

The firm said rather than spreading the limited funds of government over several new projects taken as constituency projects which face institutional lapses and bureaucracy, it’s far better to set up a cost-benefit approach to close current projects whose costs keep increasing yearly.

“A thorough review of outstanding national projects should be done with a cost-benefit analysis and project closure dates” the firm said, adding that a project management office and budget monitoring office need to be strengthened to put an independent oversight on getting capital projects done in a timely manner. It further highlighted that there should be a restriction on starting new projects except under emergency.

It urged the government to partner with states on projects in their communities that require attention rather than doing too many projects, especially new constituency ones proposed by legislators.

Job Creation

Aside from the lack of proper management of capital project implementation, the firm said the government sets goals without stating how it would implement or achieve it.

“Government has a culture of laying out grand goals such as telling us that 3.5 million jobs within the years will be provided for citizens. A core analysis hangs on how do we empirically show in the budget that government really means business? This starts from articulation of the plans and providing enough resources through the budget to fund them,” it said.

It said when ideas such as ‘government plans to bring up 3.5 million jobs by 2015’ come to the fore, “we wonder what priorities surface in the budget to back this. Nigeria has a lot of focus on agriculture but still needs to spend N40bn on capital expenditure which, relative to other governance expenses seems too small to get the national impact.”

“Jobs creation can be properly done by assessing their areas of competitive advantage and show in the budget how government intends to activate these sectors. National and state agenda have to show in detail the strategic focus of the government and necessary resources that will be allocated in the budget to ensure its fulfillment,” it added.

The federal and state governments need to decide in cogent terms which sectors they intend to focus on to propel growth. This must be backed by a factual assessment of resources needed to provide jobs for young people, the firm said.

Way Forward

“For the Nigerian budget to attain maximal performance, and translate to societal growth, it needs a structural review” BudgIT said.

A budget ideally should be tied to government goals either a national vision or grand agenda of a sitting Executive, the firm said, adding that previously, the Nigerian budget has been linked to the Vision 2020, 7-Point Agenda, NEEDS, MDGs and currently the Transformation Agenda.

“However, only the Vision 2020 is written with specific targets and growth plans. For other lofty goals, strategic details are not available. Analysis shows the budget being run as a template with the figures just being filled in by ministry officials. A look at the budget reveals the same items without a thorough review with government thinking. The Agriculture budget which fills in figures for seeds and fertilizers and also the serial budget for roads in the Works Ministry reveal the product of a worn-out template”.

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