25th September, 2012
Once again we are in the period of budget preparation and presentation and to fulfil its promise to the people, the Federal Government is set to present a draft appropriation bill to the National Assembly on 4 October. The budget has been defined as the official estimates of government’s expected income and spending for a year. It is the official estimates of both the recurrent and capital expenditures prepared by government to aid it in its administration of the country.
A good government is expected to take the implementation of its budget seriously because it is one of the economic barometers for measuring its management of the country’s economy. At the end of each fiscal year, a good government is expected to assess itself on how it has been able to implement the budget to meet the expectations of the governed and score itself on its performance.
Over the years, we have had cause to complain about the unsatisfactory way and manner the budget was implemented by various administrations. It is sad to note that the trend has not changed. In fact, it is growing worse.
Kicking against this ineptitude, members of the House of Representatives in July, shortly before they went on break, threatened to commence impeachment proceedings against President Goodluck Jonathan on resumption over his poor approach to the implementation of the 2012 budget.
We are disappointed that despite the threat by the House to impeach the President over the issue, the executive has not done much to implement the 2012 budget, three months to the end of the year.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, last week revealed the current level of budget implementation when she disclosed that her ministry has released a total of N710.4 billion as at the third quarter of the year out of which N553.2 billion is cash backed.
On actual utilisation, she revealed that only N320.9 billion has been spent on various capital projects by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). This disclosure by the minister shows that out of the N1.3 trillion budgeted for capital expenditure in the 2012 budget, only N710.4 billion has been released and only N320.9 billion of this amount has so far been spent by the MDAs.
This goes a long way to explain why we have poor electricity supply; why our roads are bad and why our rich men have to run abroad for medicare anytime they suffer headache. With three months and a few days to the end of the year, the country is likely not going to spend half of the amount budgeted for capital expenditure. Therein lies the source of the multi-faceted problems facing the country.
We think this should not be so. A responsible government should not be seen to be taking the people for granted. The 2013 budget must not be allowed to suffer the same fate. The implementation of the budget should start early and the government must ensure that it implements all the provisions to the letter.
We also want to implore the administration to reduce drastically the recurrent expenditure in favour of capital expenditure. A situation where more than 75 percent of the entire budget is spent on recurrent expenditure leaves much to be desired. A reduction in recurrent expenditure and increase in appropriation to capital projects will make the economy more productive.
The Jonathan administration must free up capital for the provision of good roads, uninterrupted electricity and other infrastructure that are in serious decay across the country.