• Friday, December 01, 2023
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Legislators’ pay rising faster than Nigeria’s capital expenditure


Nigerians who have come to see the emoluments of fed­eral legislators as obscene in a coun­try with a 60 percent poverty rate, may be shocked to learn that the true picture is significantly worse.

The delta (rate of change) of legislator pay is growing faster, relative to the growth rate of the capital expenditure (Capex).

This may to explain why Ni­gerians say they have largely felt little or no impact from the annual budget ritual.

An analysis of the National Assembly’s (NASS) budget, com­pared to the capital expenditure budget in the past five years shows this trend.

NASS had a budget of N104 billion, N127 billion, N232.7 billion and N150 billion for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively, according to data from budget proposals.

This compares to N890 bil­lion, N1.3 trillion, N1.12 trillion, and N1.32 trillion as capital expenditure for the 2009 – 2012 period.

The NASS budget grew by 22.7 percent in 2010 (from the 2009 levels), 82.2 percent in

2011 (from the 2010 levels), before falling by 35.5 percent in 2012 (from the 2011 levels), as the Finance Ministry began to make good on fiscal consolidation plans

The Capex budget however grew by 53.9 percent in 2010 (from the 2009 levels), fell by 18.2 percent in 2011 (from the 2010 levels), and rose by 17.8 percent in 2012 (from the 2011 levels).

The numbers reveal that the steepest rise in National Assembly pay occurred in 2011 when it rose by 82.2 percent, compared to a 53.9 percent rise in Capex which occurred in 2010.

The headline numbers above are however made worse by a couple of facts. For instance, while the NASS budget has increased by 44.2 percent in 2012 from the 2009 levels, the legislator population has remained steady at 469 members.

This compares to the Nigerian population which has grown to 167 million people from about 151.8 million in 2009, having to

make do with capital expenditure growing at a rate well below the ability to have any meaningful impact in their lives.

There is also the fact that the capital budget is rarely imple­mented at 100 percent, meaning that if the actual money spent on Capex, which is often close to the 50 percent mark, was used to compute the comparison be­tween NASS budget and Capex, it would paint a much worse picture.

“The capital budget for this year will be squeezed, as vol­ume and income will not meet estimates as a result of bonny light oil price discounting due to shale, and NNPC being behind in paying subsidy,” said an analyst speaking to BusinessDay off the record.

“If you don’t achieve those volumes, the NASS who take first line of income, will still get their budgetary allocations, as the recurrent gets spent first.”

Finally, analysts say the return on investment by Nigeria, for such huge spending on the NASS is quite poor, as most major bills

(with a potential to improve the economy such as the PIB), which are before the legislators have not been passed.

A further glimpse of this unfair sharing of Nigeria’s budget is seen in the budget per head for a member of the National Assembly compared to the average Nigerian.

The NASS budget for 2013 is equivalent to 9.2 percent of the 2013 capital expenditure.

This is equivalent to the Federal government spending almost 10 percent of the nations capital budget on less than 500 people.

The 2013 budget of N4.99 trillion is equal to an average of N30, 063 per Nigerian a year or N82 per day for every Nigerian.

The N150 billion 2013 budget for the National Assembly – made up of 469 members (109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives) – is however equivalent to N319.8 million per legislator per year, or N876, 712 per day.

A member of the National Assembly thus gets more money per second from the budget than an ordinary Nigerian gets in a week.