Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere
Amid growing concern that inadequate resources are available to meet Nigeria’s environmental goals and projects, especially its Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, civil society groups have urged government to increase allocation to the Ministry of Environment (FMOE) in the 2017 financial year to 1.5 per cent of the overall budget.
They agreed that the current vote of 0.32 per cent to the environment actor with 74.54 per cent of this to recurrent expenditure and 25.46 per cent to the capital expenditure couldn’t pay for urgent and important interventions needed in the sector. “The increased vote should be dedicated to capital expenditure and steps should be taken to reduce the personnel component of the ministry’s spending.”
The groups met at a Roundtable organised by Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) with the support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, which goal is to mainstream the promises of the INDC into the federal budget.
“It is imperative to decentralize capital budget spending between the headquarters and the agencies. Capital projects initiated or very relevant to agencies should be left to them for implementation with the necessary check and balances. Having over 66 per cent of the capital projects domiciled at the headquarters is not the best practice,” they said.
According to them, between 2014 and 2015, the average capital expenditure was 58.18 per cent of the approved environmental capital vote. “There are many mini erosion control projects in the budget, funds were provided for special remediation for lead contamination whilst the budget witnessed a couple of frivolous allocations. Service wide votes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include environmental concerns were left un-disaggregated.”
The Lead Director, CSJ), Eze Onyekpere explained that the 2017 federal budgeting process has started with workshops on the preparation of the Medium Term Sector Strategies (MTSS), Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Zero Base Budget (ZBB), the programme was convened to discuss the modalities of engagement and to review some initial drafts in the ten key sectors.
The sectors are agriculture, budget and national planning, environment, housing, power, transport, water resources, works, solid minerals and labour and employment.
“This will facilitate the implementation of the INDC pledges and show the low hanging fruits in key sectors which can be implemented without too much resources and efforts. This is imperative considering that the full implementation of the INDC is inter alia contingent on the availability of adequate financing for investments in environmentally friendly actions contained therein.”
The group further resolved that constituency projects of legislators in the sector should be harmonized with high level national plans and policies to guarantee their coherence. “ This should be done during then MTSS preparation stage. Never should any project be allowed into the budget after it had passed through the fence mechanisms of the ministry, Budget Office of the federation and Federal Executive Council.”
Similarly, the said that FMOE should champion a Remediation Fund Bill in the National Assembly, which will seek to set up remediation funds In all extractive industries and other relevant sectors of the economy.
“The fund will receive part of the income/ profits of the firms working in the sector and will be used to remediate the environment. It is wrong for the treasury to be using its meager resources to fund remediation when the national policy on environment declares the polluter pays principle to be one of its founding pillars.”