Government spends N753.6b capital votes without evidence of implementation
Seven months into the implementation of the 2016 fiscal plan, the Budget Office of the Federation, and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning are yet to furnish the nation with how the sum of N753.633 billion, released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) was deployed, and for what projected.
The implementation of, particularly capital votes of the 2016 spending plan, which commenced in earnest in May this year when the Appropriation Bill was signed into law, is expected to continue till May 2017 as the Presidency had sought, and obtained the approval of the National Assembly to extend the implementation to achieve a full year cycle of implementation.
The Guardian at the weekend exclusively obtained the breakdown of the capital votes releases to MDAs as at the end of October this year, which was the last time funds were released to them.
However, there is no implementation report so far to indicate the projects and the level of their implementation, as it is always the case.
Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice [Censoj], a non-governmental agency with focus on equitable distribution of the nation’s commonwealth, Mr. Eze Onykpere, described the development as “absurd and a contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Law 2007.’’
According to Eze, “This is unacceptable and goes a long way to show the lack of capacity and the level of dereliction that the team, which our affairs are consigned in their hands are made of. It’s a serious matter because they are violating the 2007 fiscal Responsibility Law, which demands that the financial activities of every quarter must be published and widely circulated in both print, electronic media as well as hoisted on their websites. It’s a serious infraction,” he insisted.
Eze added that the implication of the lack of transparency in spending so much sums funds in the absence of an implementation report is a veritable platform for corruption to fester, just as he called on the National Assembly to get serious with its oversight functions to check the drift.
A table of the 2016 budget disbursements from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) indicates that of the amount released so far, the Ministry of Works, Housing and Power received the lion share, totaling N209.246 billion, out of the N422.964 billion votes approved in the budget.
The other MDAs that got funding include : Defence Ministry, N69.512b; Transport Ministry, N30.540b; Agriculture Ministry, N29.578b; Ministry of Water Resources, N25.201b; Ministry of Interior, N21.210b; Ministry of Health, N18.472b; Education Ministry, N16.743b; Ministry of Niger Delta, N8.161b, while the Ministry of Science and Technology got N6.681b. Ministries of Mines and Steel and that of Petroleum, got the sum of N3.360b and N2.413 billion respectively.
The rest MDAs shared a consolidated sum of N312.511b.
The Ministry of Budget and National Planning, was not forthcoming with reasons for the absence of an implementation report.
Spokesman of the minister, Mr. James Akpandem, told The Guardian that: “What you should do is take the figures released and matched them with ministries and projects indicated against them. That would give you a more convincing answer than relying on my response, which may be seen as “ throwing” figures around the releases..”