chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator Bukola Saraki, has faulted several aspects of the 2014 Appropriation Bill, saying that the document failed to give priority to critical sectors and a blueprint for fiscal recklessness and leakages in government expenditure.
Of particular concern is the misplacement of prorities demonstrated in the allocation of N54bn to Niger Delta Militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme while the Military and Police got just N46bn in capital allocations.
He also noted the dangers of increased extra-budgetary spending and the impunity with which agencies, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, spent public funds and serial breaches of budget implementation rules by civil servants.
Saraki, in a critical appraisal of the budget posted on his website, expressed regret that the budget process had become a mere procedural ritual designed to fulfil a legal condition rather than a scrutiny on efficient resource allocation and use for the welfare of the people.
For example, under the defence and security allocations, the lawmaker noted that N54bn was budgeted for stipends and allowances for 30,000 Niger Delta militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme (N23.6bn) and Reintegration of Transformed Ex-Militants’ (N35.4bn), while the total capital budget for the Nigerian Army was N4.8bn and capital budget for the Ministry of Defence Headquarters – Army, Navy and Air Force – was N34.2bn.
“The budget proposal rewards banditry and encourages militancy at the expense of the fighting men and women of the Nigerian military,” he said.
He also noted that the budget proposals were skewed in favour of recurrent expenditure rather than capital votes
The senator, who noted instances where capital expenditures were more or less efficiently appropriated in the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development with N35.1bn allocation to capital and N31.4bn to recurrent; Water Resources, N30.6bn to capital and N7.7bn to recurrent; power, N59bn and N3.3bn to capital and recurrent expenditures respectively and a few others such as transport, works, aviation, lands and housing, added that some capital expenditure items were questionable at best.
Saraki, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, queried the proposal to purchase desktop computers for N2m each under the budget of the Ministry of Education, when the market prices to purchase a unit was N200,000. The Ministry of Works, he said, proposed to buy desktops at N1m per unit.
He described the 2014 budget process as the last opportunity for the National Assembly to rise up to its constitutional responsibility by critically looking into the Bill and ensure that avenues for fiscal recklessness were controlled.
The legislator specifically lamented low percentage of capital budget implementation even as the profile of extra-budgetary expenditures continued to rise, pointing out that the National Assembly needed to rein in public expenditure and ensure probity through budgeting and oversight.
The lawmaker listed 42 MDAs as having higher recurrent allocations than capital to include the Ministry of Interior, which is expected to spend N144.7bn in recurrent and just N6.29bn on capital; police formation and commands, N285.5bn on recurrent and N6.79bn capital; education, including UBEC, N443.9bn on recurrent and N49.5bn on capital and health, N216.4bn on recurrent and N46.3bn on capital expenditures.
According to him, “A cursory appraisal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated plans to spend money for the maintenance of plants and generators in several of our foreign missions, including the one in London, even as the headquarters would spend N201.7m for fumigation and cleaning services during the year.”
Stipends and Allowances to 30,000 Niger Delta Militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme: N23.6 Billion (twenty three billion, six hundred million Naira)
Reintegration of Transformed Ex Militants: N35.4 Billion (Thirty Five Billion, Four Hundred Million Naira)
Total Capital Budget for the Nigerian Army: N4.8 Billion (Four Billion, Eight Hundred Million Naira)
Total Capital Budget for the Ministry of Defence Headquarters, Army, Navy and Air Force: N34.2 billion (Thirty Four Billion, Two Hundred Million Naira)…..***Still a little less than what has been budgeted for “Reintegration of Transformed Ex-Militants”****
Total capital budget for ALL Police formations and commands: N6 Billion (Six Billion Naira)
The education budget is the same. An e.g. is a line budget to procure 15 desktop computers for 30m, which translates to 2m per unit.