No cap­i­tal projects in 2015 bud­get

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

In its re­view of the per­for­mance of the 2015 bud­get, a House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Ad-hoc Com­mit­tee on the is­sue ob­served that no pro­ject in the year’s cap­i­tal bud­get has been im­ple­mented as at the end of the third quar­ter. The con­cern of the leg­isla­tive cham­ber was kin­dled by a re­port that over 11,000 projects across the coun­try were aban­doned due to the non-im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cap­i­tal com­po­nent of the 2015 bud­get. This rev­e­la­tion fol­lowed a mo­tion spon­sored by Honourable Pa­trick Asadu ti­tled “Non im­ple­men­ta­tion of cap­i­tal projects as con­tained in the 2015 Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Act: Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment Bud­get and se­rial breach of the Fis­cal Re­spon­si­bil­ity Act by the Fed­eral Min­istry of Fi­nance”.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chair­man of the Ad hoc Com­mit­tee, Honourable Aliyu Ah­man Pategi, the sit­u­a­tion is un­ac­cept­able to Nige­ri­ans and the Fed­eral Min­istry of Fi­nance needs to ex­plain to the peo­ple why. The 2015 Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Act pro­vides for a bud­get of N 4.493 tril­lion out of which cap­i­tal projects were al­lo­cated the sum of N556 bil­lion, and which was up­graded to N700.2 bil­lion. In the words of Pategi “there is noth­ing to show for the cap­i­tal pro­vi­sions by the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive branch de­spite the fact that the fi­nan­cial year is com­ing to a close”.

Lament­ing fur­ther Pategi had to note that over the years, bud­get im­ple­men­ta­tion has fallen to very low lev­els re­sult­ing in up­ward spi­ralling un­em­ploy­ment, ris­ing crime rate, breath-tak­ing poverty, col­lapsed in­fra­struc­ture and poor so­cial ser­vice de­liv­ery”. He then pointed out that the Na­tional Assem­bly finds it un­ac­cept­able and eco­nom­i­cally un­wise for the 2015 bud­get to al­lo­cate 88% to re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture, a sit­u­a­tion which will not be con­doned in fu­ture bud­get pro­pos­als.

There are many premises to jus­tify public in­ter­est in the fail­ure of the gov­ern­ment to im­ple­ment the cap­i­tal com­po­nent of the 2015 bud­get. Firstly the non-im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cap­i­tal com­po­nent of the bud­get co­in­cided with the af­ter­math of the last polls, which was marked by huge dis­burse­ments in cash for ends that were mostly not in public in­ter­est. Se­condly the Fed­eral Min­istry of Fi­nance had since Jan­uary this year been meet­ing only the re­cur­rent and over­head ex­pen­di­tures of the var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies to the detri­ment of the cap­i­tal projects. In ad­di­tion to the fore go­ing is the re­cent bail-out granted by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to state gov­ern­ments who owed huge back­log of work­ers’ salaries. The present ad­min­is­tra­tion doled out the sum of N720 bil­lion for the pur­pose of dis­tri­bu­tion to states out of which N390 bil­lion was for bail­ing out in­debted states, to set­tle the owed work­ers. The play-out of these fac­tors raises ques­tions over the pre­mium which gov­ern­ment ac­cords cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture.

Yet cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture de­fines the qual­ity of life of the cit­i­zens through its pro­vi­sion for the de­vel­op­ment, ac­qui­si­tion and up­grad­ing of in­fra­struc­ture. The in­fras­truc­tural projects so aban­doned fea­ture roads, bridges, public houses and other fa­cil­i­ties. All over the coun­try these projects now turned into ‘white ele­phant’ ven­tures, are spread around to re­mind all that all is not well with the econ­omy. More specif­i­cally the stop­page of work on them trans­lates into the lay­ing off from job for thou­sands of work­ers and the pau­per­iza­tion of their de­pen­dent fam­i­lies, in­crease in the num­ber of con­trac­tors owed by gov­ern­ment and gen­eral de­pres­sion in the eco­nomic life of the coun­try.

Against the prom­ise of the present ad­min­is­tra­tion the sit­u­a­tion re­mains an anath­ema to the de­sired di­rec­tion of the Nige­rian econ­omy. This is even as the fail­ure in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cap­i­tal com­po­nent of bud­gets in the coun­try is a his­tor­i­cal weak­ness of the econ­omy.

The onus now lies on the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­verse this ig­no­ble trend, if it must suc­ceed in chang­ing Nige­ria’s eco­nomic for­tunes.

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