-by our correspondent
Breakdown of capital projects in the proposed 2021 Federal Budget is not transparent, full of duplication, distortions and loopholes for misappropriations of funds.
This is the submission of BudgIT, a Nigerian non-governmental organisation leading the advocacy for fiscal transparency and accountability in budget and public finance, which is calling on the government to prioritise projects that deliver value for Nigerians.
In a statement the advocacy body said government had offered hope that capital projects in the 2021 budget will be accompanied by precise GPS coordinates to encourage project monitoring, but this was not provided in the budget proposal as many capital projects had no specific locations in the country.
BudgIT’s Principal Lead, Gabriel Okeowo
“ Recall that in June 2020, our analysis of Open Treasury Portal revealed that over N50bn of public funds were paid into personal accounts; allocating projects without defined location(s) is a loophole for this form of corruption to continue in the fiscal year 2021.” The statement read.
While speaking on other issues with capital projects in the proposed budget, BudgIT’s Principal Lead, Gabriel Okeowo, noted that the Federal Government cannot afford to keep pumping the country’s limited resources into new projects while abandoned capital projects suffer inadequate investment.
According to Okeowo, Nigeria is currently in recession and strategic spending on capital infrastructure project completion should be a priority. “We analysed over 13,000 capital projects in the 2021 budget and observed that 55.51% of the total allocation for capital expenditure are earmarked for new projects, many of which may end up uncompleted by 2021, this is contrary to the hope Mr. President offered in his budget speech that ongoing projects will be prioritized in the 2021 Budget” He said
“Of the 13,343 capital projects we analysed, a sizable number of projects were falsely categorized as capital projects even though in reality they are not, for instance, meetings, allowances, anniversaries and celebrations were wrongly categorised as capital projects. Some cases in point include; N3.3bn for ‘Posting and Return Entitlement of Ambassadors and Officers’ in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N74.5million allocated for “Anniversaries and Celebrations’ in the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDC), N40 million for ‘Peculiar Allowance’ in Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission, which are all categorized as capital expenditures.’ The statement read.
BudgIT considers the current structure of capital projects too wasteful, incoherent, and grossly inefficient noting that duplication, opacity and fragmentation of line items by government agencies could present opportunities for subverting checks and balances meant for accountability.
BudgIT’s Director and Co-founder, Oluseun Onigbinde
According to BudgIT’s Director and Co-founder, Oluseun Onigbinde, “The fragmentation of capital projects is an urgent conversation that the Federal Government needs to address. In an era of dwindling revenues caused by low oil prices and the current slump in the global economy, it is important for the government to pay attention to a few projects of immense social and economic value”
BudgIT, implores the Federal Government to allocate more funds to capital projects that directly affect the welfare of the citizens while underlining the need for more funds to be allocated to ongoing projects to guarantee government’s commitment to their completion.