• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Prioritise projects that drive development — BudgIT urges FG

Prioritise projects that drive development — BudgIT urges FG

…Accuses FG, N/ASS of running convoluted budgets

BudgIT, a leading civic-tech organisation has urged the Federal Government to prioritise the implementation of projects and programmes that align with Nigeria’s development goals and improve the lives of citizens, the bulk of whom are poor.

The organisation also decried the proposed elongation of the implementation period for the 2023 approved budget and 2023 supplementary budget from the proposed termination date of December 31, 2023, to December 31, 2024.

It recalled that the 2023 approved budget of N21.83 trillion, signed into law by former President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2023, was designed to run for 12 calendar months from January to December, as is the practice globally.

It observed that while the 2024 appropriation bill was being drafted, the 2023 supplementary budget of N2.17 trillion was passed by the National Assembly and assented to by President Bola Tinubu barely two months before the end of the 2023 fiscal year.

Commenting on the development, Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s country director, stated that the concurrent implementation of four budgets will lead to severe budget credibility issues as revenues projected in 2024 alone would most likely be used in implementing four different budgets.

This, he said, would negatively impact service delivery in critical social sectors and the provision of essential public infrastructure.

Budgit, in a statement signed by Nancy Odimegwu, its communications officer, said: “For a brief period, Nigeria returned to the January – December budget calendar in 2019 but retrogressed from the 2020 fiscal year. From 2020 to date, the Federal Government has routinely extended the implementation period for the capital budgets beyond 12 calendar months—a practice that negates the principle of annuality of public budgets.”

It noted that the National Assembly had initially extended the implementation of the 2023 approved budget and the 2023 supplementary budget to June 30, 2024, and now to December 31, 2024.

“If allowed to be implemented, the practice would convert Nigeria’s annual budget into a biennial one, a practice neither provided for by the 1999 Constitution nor the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.

“More worrisome is the fact that the Federal Government is currently drafting another 2024 supplementary budget, which it intends to implement alongside the 2023 approved budget, 2023 supplementary budget and 2024 approved budget, thereby resulting in the simultaneous implementation of four budgets—an anomaly with no precedence.

“Standard practice should be that projects not catered to within a fiscal year are rolled over to the budget of a new fiscal year.”

According to the organisation, there are frivolous items in the 2023 approved budget and 2023 supplementary budget that will compete with essential projects in the 2024 Budget for the meagre resources available to the Federal Government.

“To this end, we call on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to amend the complications of this convoluted budgeting system and return to a disciplined January- December budget calendar.

“We also urge the Federal Government to identify and implement only the projects and programmes that align with Nigeria’s overarching development goals, reduce inequality, and improve the lives of citizens, the bulk of who are in multidimensional poverty,” it stated.