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The federal executive council and 2009 budget report

September 15, 2009

The trouble with the current leadership of President Umaru Musa
Yar’dua and his cabinet members is that of a fundamental deceit of
themselves and a dedicated effort to hoodwink the Nigerian people
particularly on issues of economic management of his administration
and the performance of the 2009 budget.

At the last meeting of the
Federal Executive Council in the month of August; which was devoted to
the sectoral review of the 2009 budget performance, it was an ugly
sight and bad news to see and hear Nigeria’s cabinet ministers regale
in the percentage of the implementation of the budget in their various
ministries, departments and agencies. All the six ministers that had
the opportunity of addressing the media on the performance of their
ministries as regards the 2009 Appropriation Act, had the audacity of
putting up a bold and shameless face and scoring their ministries very
high and unfounded marks.

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According Rilwanu Lukman, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, his
Ministry in terms of projects execution has attained 20% completion
and will attain 100% by the end of the year 2009. The Minister of
Health, Babatunde Osontimenyi claimed that his ministry had attained
60% implementation of the 2009 budget; with the installation of
equipment nationwide to the tune of N1.1 billion as part of response
to HIV/AIDS; and the execution of projects in excess of N5billion as
part of the ministry’s midwifery services scheme targeting the
recruitment of 3000 midwives to be deployed in local government areas
and wards.

The aim of the programme according to the minister is to
reduce maternal mortality ratio by at least 60% and child mortality by
55 percent in 2009/2010.The minister of interior was comfortable to
inform Nigerians that by December he would have achieved 100% of
budget implementation in his sector. With a capital budget of
N11,503,604,727, out of which N10,779,650,721 has been committed. and
a release of over 8billion and actual spending of N3,188,148,908.55,
one wonders how the minister will attain this magic 100% percent
implementation of the budget when we are already in the last quarter
of the year in question.

The minister of education, Sam Egwu claimed to have achieved 65.5
percent budget implementation in the education sector.

Although ASUU’s
demands are not yet appropriated for, one wonders what the minister
has done with ASUU on strike for months now and poor budget
implementation that had been a source of conflict between executive
and legislature to have made such an amorphous claim on this year’s
budget. The only tangible project the minister announced in his
presentation was the establishment of two federal polytechnics in
Bayelsa and Taraba States. The fact remains that the 2009
Appropriation Act is being haphazardly implemented.

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The show, that last Wednesday in August after the Federal Executive
Council meeting was a show of shame, though a face-saving one by the
President Umaru Musa-Yar’dua’s government. What the Nigerian people
and development and economic experts have seen is weak capital budget
implementation capacity and insincerity in the management of the
nation’s fiscal affairs; contrary to the essence and provisions of the 
Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007

The report of the Budget Office of the Federation on the
implementation of the 2009 budget states that in the first quarter,
the sum of N200.37 billion was released to MDAs for capital
expenditure. Out of this sum N160.84 billion was cash backed by the
Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

However, only
N33.26 billion was accessed and utilised by MDAs which represents
20.68% performance by MDAs in the utilization of capital votes. This
report according to the Budget Office of the Federation was strictly
based on response received from MDAs while physical verification and
inspection of projects will wait until the end of the year when the
budget is fully implemented. The implication of this is that the
implementation figures could be much lower because MDAs would likely
give figures to indicate that they are doing something with the moneys
allocated to them. The second quarter budget implementation report is
long overdue and the Budget Office is yet to prepare and release same.
Thus all the claims by the minister are not based on any empirical
evidence or evidence that can be substantiated.

Government’s performance in budget implementation is poor.

The fact
remains that the ministers and their civil servant partners in
ministries, departments and agencies (MDA’s) are waiting to feast on
the peoples resources when they will share the loot late in the year
and return the rest to government coffers at the end of the year;
under the guise of prudence, while the masses keep wallowing in abject
poverty and basic infrastructure degenerates. This is not the meaning
of good economic management. Returning money to government coffers at
the end of the year; when several contractors to the government have
not been paid and people oriented projects and programmes are not
executed is a testament to a failed public expenditure management

Ugo Jim-Nwoko is a Development Communications Practitioner and writes from Plot 17 Yaounde Street Wuse zone 6 Abuja.