No capital projects in 2015 budget
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.