• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Funding crisis hits Federal Government agencies

businessday-icon

Nigeria’s government agencies are apparently facing the hardest cash crunch- at least in recent times- and are finding it extremely difficult to perform their obligations, reliable sources have told BusinessDay.
Less than two months to the end of the year, the finance ministry is yet to announce whether or not it has released any funds to the MDAs for 2018  capital expenditure as had been the practice, however, sources tell BusinessDay that most of the agencies have not accessed more than 10 percent of their budgeted capex for the year.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which has been called out since Wednesday for not releasing unemployment numbers since last quarter of 2017 is one of those critical agencies hard hit by the funding crisis. As seen in its data release calendar, the agency, now highly trusted for credible and timely data  had scheduled to release the Q4, 2017 labor force report on January 19, 2018 but has not even commenced the survey due to lack of funds.
Reliable sources at the statistics office confirm that they are still waiting for funds to conduct critical surveys – at the moment only 25 percent has so far been released to the statistics office for this year’s capex, while overheads have not been paid for about 5 months now.
“Like the Statistician General has been explaining, we have not been able to carry out the labour force survey basically due to budgetary constraints which I am told is being worked on and will soon be finalized. It is not an NBS issue, it is across the agencies, and I believe that things will be sorted out soon by government,” the source who would not like to be mentioned told BusinessDay.

READ ALSO: Buhari seeks oil JV restructuring to fund 2018 budget

The recent comment by Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) further confirm huge funding challenges which government agencies now face.
Adeyeye was quoted to have said on Monday that 80 per cent of the NAFDAC equipment can no longer function, obviously due to lack of funds to fix them and even to recruit more staff.
Ken Goodluck, an Abuja based political economist, speaking to BusinessDay confirmed the challenging environment within which agencies operate presently, further disclosing that even contractors are not being paid for jobs already completed, while new contracts cannot be funded.
“Considering how far the NBS has reformed, I think it is unfair for anyone to attribute late release of unemployment data to political pressure. There is no money anywhere despite improved revenues in terms of oil, tax and even collections from customs since this year,” Goodluck added.
In June, President Buhari finally signed the controversial N9.120 trillion, 2018 budget after six months appropriation delays by the National Assembly.
The federal government plans to borrow N1.643 trillion to fund the deficit embedded in the budget and equally hopes to raise N306 billion from privatisation and another N5 billion from the sale of government property. So far, none of those assets have been sold, BusinessDay can confirm.
Apart from borrowings, questions are being raised on how the government is deploying billions of naira it claims to have recovered from looters, collections from revenue generating agencies, as well as oil earnings especially as crude prices have well exceeded the $51 budget benchmark.
The Nigeria Custom service, NCS for instance said it has already made N784. 88billion between January and August 2018 and hopes to exceed its N1.3 trillion target for the year.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), announced it recorded N4.3trillion between January and October, which translates to 64.2 percent of its N6.7 trillion targeted for the 2018 fiscal year.
Besides, Nigeria has reportedly recorded a significant increase in oil export revenue, earning an estimated $26bn in the first seven months of this year, following rally in global crude oil prices, according to the OPEC Revenues Fact Sheet released by the Energy Information Administration.
The 2018 appropriation bill, the largest in the nation’s history, was premised on key revenue assumptions of oil price benchmark of $51 and 2.3 million barrels per day. Although average oil output for the year has not reached the target, average oil price at over $70 per barrel so far in the year has well exceeded the $51 benchmark.
“Authorities may need to tell us whether all these earnings since beginning of this year are just being used to fund recurrent expenditure,” Goodluck further noted.

 

Onyinye Nwachukwu, Abuja