31st December, 2013
A budget expresses strategic plans of business units, organizations, activities or events in measurable terms. It is an important concept in microeconomics. In other terms, a budget is an organisational plan stated in monetary terms. In view of the importance of a budget, there is need for state governments to be transparent while executing it. This has become pertinent following the persistent recourse by state government officials to deviate from their financial plans in the bid to divert revenue into private coffers. This is achieved with ease when contract costs and other expenditures in the budget are inflated.
Another smart way of circumventing budgetary estimates is failure to break down the estimates to enable even the lay man know how much is specifically allocated to a particular project or what the government intends to do with a specific amount. Shrouding such estimates in secrecy has always allowed government officials to get away with monumental fraud year after year through the diversion of funds allocated for specific purposes.
State governments are guilty of this corrupt act because they fail to break down budgetary allocations to specific areas. While the Federal Government has broken down its 2014 budgetary allocations to various sectors, including the Villa where even the amount to be spent on two animals in the zoo was highlighted, the same cannot be said of state governments whose 2014 budgets have been broad and could not be narrowed down to specific areas as is the case with the federal budget.
We expect the state governments to take a cue from the Federal Government by uploading their budgets on their websites to enable Nigerians analyse their proposed expenditure the way analysts have torn the 2014 federal budget into shreds.
In a democracy, the people deserve the right to know in detail budgetary estimates in order to form an informed opinion about the proposed expenditures so that when the government is derailing in the course of the implementation, the citizens could call the government to order.
Inflated budgets and lack of transparency have undermined development in our country, with adverse effect on infrastructure, employment opporturnities, etc. State governments must break from this sordid past and do the right thing for once.