by Kalu Aja
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
The quote above was by Vice President Joe Biden, its succinct. If I see what you spend money on, I see what you value.
It has been difficult to do a proper analysis of the 2016 budget because the breakdown was unavailable, however the budget breakdown has been released, and it’s a very disappointing, (I am being polite).
DOWNLOAD The 2016 Appropriation Budget Published by the Budget Office of the Federation HERE.
The budget sees a huge spend on capital expenses, this is positive and a reflector of the economy if properly done.
Structurally the budget is a budget of debt with a full N1.36 trillion to be spent on debt service, the entire non-oil revenues will be spent on debt service alone. we are borrowing almost N420 billion to pay salaries. However, salaries must be paid, the armed forces, police and teachers must be paid, in fact some may argue that government spending is a necessary stimulus on the face of a slow economy, I concede that point, but in God’s green heaven why is Nigeria spending N795 million ie $3 million to update a website for the Ministry of Solid Minerals?!
How can this be happening in 2016? In a progressive budget? In a climate of austerity? N795 million?
Who approved this proposal? Did Dr Kayode Fayemi approve this expenditure? Did Udo Udo Udoma and Kemi Adeosun see this? Was this vetted by the President’s team? Is President Buhari aware his budget contains a provision of N795 million to update a website? What part of zero budget is this?
The 2016 budget proposal is simply filled with other astonishing allocations, for example an amount totally N535 million is to connect cables to the State House, Guest, Gate and Generator House…. N535 million!
One of the main trust of the administration is anti-corruption, the EFFC was given N11 billion to fight corruption, impressive, but out of this N11 billion, only N111 million is for Legal Services that 1%, yes 1%. The EFCC will spend more on fuel and lubricants, than legal services. Is this the zero budget we have been hearing of? Is there another to come?
Let me highlight the ministry with the highest capital vote, the massive Ministry of Housing, Power and Works. Understandably this is a merger of 3 larger ministries but I mean, some things just stand out, eg the “Generation of 10mw from Katsina wind farm” is duplicated, the “Generation of 700ma from Zungeru Hydropower project is duplicated 6 times! Ironically “Sustenance of Effective Budgeting Systems is duplicated 3 times!
In the same Ministry of Works, Housing & Power budget you also see expenses that baffle. For example, the ministry is proposing N531 million to attend meetings on housing and development? Do we also really need to spend N919 million on Research and Development on housing matters?
The 2016 budget as proposed does not reflect the body language of the President nor the economic realities of $30 crude oil price. We are proposing to spend as if we just won the Powerball Lottery, we had these sort of questionable budgets in the past, and this administration has preached change and a practical implementation of a zero based budget, this budget reflects neither of these.
There is still the opportunity for this budget to be reviewed during the National Assembly’s appropriation process, but I am not holding my breath. On a final note, we can do better, much better.
It’s our problem, we can solve it…
Kalu Aja is an advocate of limited government and a fiscal conservative. In his day job he is a financial adviser. Connect with him on Facebook.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.