29th October, 2013
By Tayo Ogunbiyi
The common accounting tool governments, companies, organisations and several other institutions across the world use for planning and controlling what they must do to satisfy the people, customers and succeed in governance, business and other areas of human endeavours is budgeting. Budgets provide a measure of the financial results a company expects from its planned activities. By planning for the future, government officials, chief executives, managers, administrators and others in leadership positions learn to anticipate potential problems and how to avoid them. Instead of subsequently facing problems, they can focus their energies on exploiting opportunities.
In the last six years, the Lagos State Government has changed the paradigm not only in budgeting but in its implementation in the country. The state has not only effectively monitored budget implementation, it has consistently delivered a budget performance in excess of 70%. It has been the policy of the state government to embark on quarterly budget review. Repeated monitoring, critical examination and diligent application of the process have impacted positively on budget performance in the state. The idea of quarterly budget assessment speaks volumes about the pro-activeness of the state government as it affords it a scientific basis of measuring its performance in a consistent manner while putting pressure on government departments and agencies to meet budgetary targets.
Recently, the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), reported a third quarter performance of 70 percent for the 2013 Budget attributing the shortfall from an aggregate half year performance of 72 percent to 71 percent to revenue shortfall and delay in remittances of national statutory allocations. Briefing reporters after the Year 2013 Third Quarter Budget Performance Appraisal at the Lagos House, Ikeja, Fashola revealed that a slight dip from 72 percent half year performance to 71 percent now but a larger dip from 83 percent second quarter standing alone, to 70 percent now. He, however, expressed satisfaction that most infrastructure projects under the 2013 Budget are making progress. These include roads in Epe, Ajah, Agege and Ajao Link Bridge. Other projects in different stages of completion are Iju Road Bypass from Capitol Road, road works going on inside the GRA, Ikeja nearing completion, drainage works across the state, healthcare centres, Cardiac and Renal Centre at Gbagada, new schools and numerous others.
This shows that progress is being made in terms of capital works in addition to improvement in service delivery. Recently, the Alausa power plant, one of the projects earmarked for completion in the third quarter was commissioned while the Chief Folarin Coker staff clinic at the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja was equally handed over for use.
From all indications, funding and financing remain the singular biggest challenge faced by the state in her effort to meet budgetary expectations. For instance, the overall budget performance for the current year stands at 71% and revenue is dwindling while expenditure is escalating. Also, prognoses for federal transfers remain worrisome with large-scale revenue shortfalls arising from oil theft, poor accountability of NNPC in addition to Federal Government’s position to stop FAAC augmentation. Nevertheless, we commend the efforts of the state government in cutting overheads cost in favour of capital expenditures.
More importantly, it is very inspiring that the result of recent impact assessment done by the state government shows that critical sectors such as Health, Education, Environment, and Security, are experiencing marked improvements. In terms of literacy level, for example, the level in the state is above the National Average. In terms of life expectancy, the life expectancy in Lagos State is above the National Average with much more advanced environment like Johannesburg. The implication of this is enhanced security, improved healthcare and invariably better quality of life. The number of patients to doctors is also improving as reflected in life expectancy. Equally, the number of still births and deaths is also gradually reducing.
The human challenges that confronted the full implementation of budget are both behavioural and attitudinal as people still refuse to comply with laws of the state. The effect of this is increase in the cost of running government in many ways because compulsory compliance which the people will not accede to, leaves government spending more money on law enforcement than it probably would have. People driving against traffic, people not managing their refuse properly, refusing to use the PSP and patronising cart pushers who are not registered to operate, people selling along the road and so many other unwholesome behaviours are all parts of the human factors working against the budget.
From all indications, with the availability of the required financial resources, the state government would accomplish its objective of taking Lagos to the next level. Over the years, it has demonstrated enough capacity to implement projects. Ironically, however, the successes of the state have created economic problems for her as reflected in the number of people coming into the state to benefit from what it has to offer. It is quite similar to the case of Nigerians travelling abroad in quest of the proverbial greener pasture.
In order to ensure total success of subsequent budgets in the state, the people need be fully involved in its implementation. For instance, they need to speak up whenever they notice any anomaly in the implementation of projects in their localities. The projects in their localities are theirs and are principally meant for them so they should monitor them to ensure that money being spent is well spent.
Similarly, existing structures for programme monitoring should be supported with proper evaluation systems especially where existing ones are weak. It is important, equally, that evaluation provides evidence- based information that is credible, reliable and useful, enabling the timely incorporation of findings, recommendation and lessons learnt into decision making. Perhaps, more significantly, all MDAs in the state need to be more creative in their revenue generation drive by focusing on untapped areas of revenue.
•Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa Ikeja.