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2024 Budget Proposal: BudgIT Highlights Alarming Issues, Discrepancies, Calls For Urgent Review

 

 

BudgIT, a leading civic-tech organization promoting transparency, accountability, and effective service delivery in Nigeria, has raised concerns over the proposed 2024 Appropriation Bill presented to the National Assembly by President Bola Tinubu.

Recall that in August 2023,  BudgIT  itemized ten plagues that the Tinubu administration should avoid in the 2024 budget and budget process to ensure value for money, curb expenditure inefficiency and waste, enforce accountability, and put Nigeria on the pathway of prosperity, economic growth, and development.

The Communications Associate, BudgIT, Nancy Odimegwu in a statement said, “Unfortunately, having reviewed the proposed 2024 Appropriation Bill breakdown, we observed that the Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration has continued with some deleterious budget practices from previous regimes that have fostered corruption, underdevelopment, unemployment, and multidimensional poverty.

“One significant observation is the absence of crucial budget breakdowns from the National Assembly, Government-Owned Enterprises, and some Ministry Departments and Agencies in the 2024 budget proposal. For instance, there is no breakdown of the National Assembly, the Niger Delta Development Commission and the North East Development Commission’s budget.  For emphasis, the budgets of key revenue-generating government entities—including the Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NiMASA), National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (NSPM), to mention a few—are conspicuously missing from the proposed 2024 budget presented to the National Assembly.

“Furthermore, the proposed budget’s total sum is N24.08 trillion, indicating a discrepancy of N3.42 trillion compared to the N27.5 trillion aggregate budget presented. We suspect that the difference above comprises the aggregate budgets of the Government-Owned Enterprises. To this effect, the Government-Owned Enterprises’ proposed revenue and expenditures require disaggregation. The revenues and expenditures of several Government-Owned Enterprises have historically been absent from formal budget presentations.

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“Former President Muhammadu Buhari promised to ensure not only the budgets of all MDAs and GOEs are present in the annual appropriation bill but also that their budgets are defended and assented to publicly. This was not implemented before the end of his tenure, and the Tinubu administration has carried on in this regard. This also indicates the need for more Government-Owned Enterprises’ budget implementation reports.

“A detailed analysis of the budget also reveals duplications in allocations, particularly in renovating the President’s and Vice President’s quarters.  The Federal Government made provisions for a cumulative sum of N8 billion (N4 billion each) through the 2023 supplementary budget for renovating the President’s official quarters in Aso Rock Villa and Dodan Barracks.

“Surprisingly, an additional N500 million has been allocated to the renovation of the President’s quarters in Aso Rock Villa, even as N5 billion has been earmarked for the renovation of the President’s quarters in Dodan Barracks. Similarly, the Vice President’s quarters in Lagos and Abuja, which got a cumulative sum of N5.5 billion in the 2023 supplementary budget for renovation, equally got allocations of N4 billion, N300 million, and N5 billion each in the 2024 budget.

“Cumulatively, the President and Vice President have a total allocation of N28.3 billion to either renovate or construct their quarters in Lagos and Abuja and another N10 billion to digitize those quarters. For better context, the funds set aside to renovate, construct, and digitalize the official residences of the President and Vice President are more than the capital budget of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development and the Ministry of Steel Development put together.

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“Additionally, the proposed Appropriation Bill indicates plans to borrow $7.8 billion and €100 million (approximately N6 trillion) to fund the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). The Federal Government has projected a foreign borrowing of N1.77 trillion to finance the fiscal deficit of the 2024 budget; hence, should the government be seeking approval to borrow to fund budgets (2025 and 2026) that are not currently in existence?

“Another concern is the revenue projections, which have generally been ambitious and unmet, even in aggregate. The budget needs revenue projections aligned with fiscal realities, which must be done realistically and pragmatically. With net oil revenue falling on average in the last three years, serving as a generally unreliable source of government revenue, the Nigerian government’s focus needs to be directed beyond customs revenues and value-added taxes.

“The service-wide vote, which was established as a contingency fund to address unforeseen circumstances and events, has increased exponentially in recent years from N198.95 billion (2.18 per cent of the budget) in 2018 to N757.19 billion (5.54per cent of the budget) in 2021, and more recently to N4.41 trillion (16.03% of the budget) in 2024. In addition, the service-wide vote provision contains budget lines that should be captured within MDAs’ budgets and vague budget lines that create loopholes for impropriety and/or corruption.

“For example, the service-wide vote envelope in the 2024 appropriation bill contains N108 billion for “special projects” with the project code “ERGP9213044.” To worsen the situation, the federal government budget implementation reports often contain no information on how service-wide votes are utilized.”

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To this end, BudgIT urged the National Assembly to recognize the budget’s pivotal role as a government policy instrument and conduct a thorough examination, calling for a comprehensive review that prioritizes broad-based economic growth, reduces inequality, addresses poverty, tackles insecurity, bridges Nigeria’s infrastructure gap, and invests in human capital development.

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