Civil Society Organisations, Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, in partnership with the Citizens Wealth Platform, CWP, have called on the Federal Government for removal of ‘frivolities’ from the 2018 budget.
This was part of resolutions in a report titled ‘Review of the 2018 Federal Appropriation Bill’ presented by the Executive Director, CSJ, Eze Onyekpere, in Abuja. Onyekpere said most of the contents in the 2018 Budget were not really necessary with the present realities of things, but are mere rhetoric with no detailed explanation of some items.
According to him, it was not necessary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to propose N5.295 billion for National Grazing Reserve Development, it was therefore an illegality that cannot be justified.
He further stated that for the equipment of hospitals, 20.89 per cent allocation to capital expenditure was grossly inadequate to meet prevalent health challenges, and expressed dismay for the declining budgetary provision for the health sector.
On Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, he said the review discovered that with many ongoing projects in the works sector including the Abuja-Lokoja and East-West Roads that have been on for over a decade, the 2018 budgetary provision cannot complete them.
On power sector he said rural electrification projects should be for the Electricity Distribution Companies, DisCos, and should not be the duty of the Ministry, therefore not needed in the budget, and said the 40 percent share of government in the sector should be on the Nigerian Stock Exchange to generate more money, and should create an investors’ window in the electricity sector.
He said: “The budget needs to be anchored on a robust and realistic economic, fiscal and developmental framework which emphasizes domestic resources mobilsation and capitalism driven by the commitment of all members of the society.
“The sector’s budget is 2.1 per cent of the total budget. There is a continuous disregard of the Maputo/Malabo commitments of at least 10 per cent of the national budget to be voted to Agriculture, as a minimum standard. “As usual, the sector’s budget allotted a whooping N98.125 billion out of the N172.796 billion to the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja, which is about the total budget of the sector. There are 46 MDAs in the sector, while FMARD HQs got 56.73 percent.
“These and similar huge votes in the Agriculture proposals need specificity (activities, goods, services, works, construction, deliverables, etc.), and locations of activities. Otherwise, they are hanging and may be subject to abuse. Nigerians need to know what exactly their money will be used for. “Again, proposing N5.295 billion for National Grazing Reserve Development at a time the bill proposing to set up Grazing Reserves is yet to be passed by NASS is an illegality that cannot be justified under any jurisprudential canon. The vote should be re-programmed.”
“They ignore the pressing problems and challenges while providing for the fancy, whims and caprice of the budget crafters. This provision cannot meet policy goals declared by the government. Unclear provisions are deliberately crafted by ministries, department and agency MDAs to deceive the people.