Centre of Social Justice said it has identify provisions in the 2024 budget that are frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful expenditure that should be eliminated. In a statement it said “Nigeria is undergoing an economic and fiscal crisis of monumental proportions. The currency has been devalued officially to N750 to 1USD while the street value is above N1000 to 1USD. Inflation is at all time high of 28% year on year while Nigerians living in multi-dimensional poverty is in excess of 130 million. Debt service gulps over 80% of revenue and insecurity rules the land. In the 2024 executive budget proposals, the aggregate expenditure is N27.5trillion and the expected revenue is N18.32trillion, and the deficit is N9.18trillion. Debt service will gulp N8.493trillion. With this scenario, the reasonable expectation is that every available resource in the 2024 federal budget proposal would be targeted at concrete deliverables. Indeed, frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful expenditure should be eliminated to the minimum.
“A large part of the funding of the budget will be borrowed and it will be foolhardy to borrow and waste the borrowed funds. There are so many projects that are vaguely described and without location; a play on words using terms like empowerment and sensitisation, etc. The State House and Presidency vote is suffused with bloated routine maintenance, renovation and repair work, purchase of SUVs and vehicles in the billions of Naira. These are not priorities for spending borrowed money. Service wide votes continue the tradition of lump sum votes for vaguely described expenditure items which at the end of the year cannot guarantee value for money. The vote of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security is suffused with projects that have no locations, class of beneficiaries and sometimes no clear deliverables. This is the case in over 90% of the projects. This has been the norm in agriculture budgeting over the years. The most troubling part of this proposal is that many of the unclear proposals are to be funded from debt. Borrowing and demonstrating a clear intent to mismanage the resources is economic sabotage of the highest order and should be discontinued. The vote needs to be totally repackaged and these nebulous expenditure proposals made clear and to be of benefit to Nigerians.
“The 12 River Basin Development Authorities sit on thousands of acres of public land and over the years, get allocations for tractors, farm equipment, implements, fish and livestock replenishment, seeds, processing machinery and implements, etc. They should be revenue centres that remit billions of Naira to FGN instead of the current approach where they gulp money without any meaningful contribution to the revenue. The land, machinery and other infrastructure could be capitalized for collaboration with the private sector for commercial farming that will generate revenue for government. At a minimum, RBDAs should be compelled to fund their personnel and recurrent expenditure pending when they are fully weaned of public funding. There are many new and ongoing projects proposed by the National Rural Electrification Agency without geographic location and class of beneficiaries beyond stating the name of the state or the geopolitical zone. It is imperative for NASS to verify that such project are actually ongoing or the exact locations of the new ones before approval.
“The locations should be included in the approved budget. The Agency’s budget proposal is a clear example of how not to present a budget proposal. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to propose interventions in a way and manner that cannot be monitored and project locations will only be known to the Agency. The meagre resources allocated to the Federal Ministry of Works have been so thinly spread across hundreds of projects to the extent that money will be spent without any concrete improvements in the works sector. In the interim, NASS should prune down the number of projects and focus on a few which can be improved from available resources. Otherwise, voting N100m, N200m to major road projects (even when prudently spent) will amount to a waste of resources. Some roads even got as low as N10m. This is a joke taken too far. The Federal Roads Authority Bill needs to be enacted to provide other sustainable sources of road financing and management apart from the treasury”