On Wednesday 10th February 2016, the national assembly hosted Civil Society Organisations in an interactive session on the 2016 budget. Kemi Busari captures some of the resolutions.
The well-attended session was held at the conference room of the senate and had on seat the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
As earlier disclosed, the aim of the meeting is to afford Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) opportunity to contribute ideas, perspectives and strategies to that of the National Assembly, in order to pass a budget acceptable by Nigerians.
The budget which was drafted without the input of such organisations has been visited by criticism from the people since it was made public.
In order to fill this lacuna, the organisations made analyses, submissions and recommendations. Parts of the issues raised are that;
– There is a perceived low allocation for Agriculture. Despite the call by the presidency for diversification of the economy, only N76 billion are allocated to the sector.
– It was discovered that the 2016 budget is not in any way linked to the 2015 budget. Do we have some funds left from the previous budget, are there carried over expenditures? Where did we stop last year and where do we continue from? The 2016 budget totally exercised disconnect from the previous year.
– That implementation of budget in Nigeria has always been short of the 1year circle.
– Items purchased in 2015, re-appear in 2016. For example, purchase of computers, photocopy machines, cars, furniture etc. for government offices.
– The purchase of foreign vehicles like BMWs, Mercedes Benz, Toyota products etc, against the country’s procurement law that support local contents by government parastatals.
– Some items in the budget appeared numerous times, the Zungeru Hydro power project appeared 6 times.
– The budget has instances of suspicious and wasteful spending like: N1.7billion for office rent, N16 Billion for rehabilitation of office building, N19.8 billion for Travelling and tours of officials, N13.5 Billion for purchase of software, 1.6bn for budget preparations etc.
Applauding the National Assembly for the initiative, the groups gave some recommendations and demand.
Part of the which are that the government should employ an up-bottom approach in the drafting of subsequent budgets to ensure citizen participation, budgets should be made to complete a 12month cycle in compliance with the provision of the constitution and an improved citizens participation at the draft stage.
They also made a case for more allocation to females and emphasised improvement in allocation to agricultural Sector to enhance Job creation, poverty alleviation and economic prosperity.