Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
In view of the poor public expenditure accountability record in the country, the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) has said the introduction of Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS) in governance has become desirable.
PETS, CSEA posited, was a tool to investigate the flow, major leakages and misuse of public funds at all tiers of government, adding that its introduction would help bolster transparency and accountability of government expenditure.
CSEA—a non-profit think tank set up in 2008 by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, conducts independent, high quality, applied research on economic policy issue in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
In its latest ‘Policy Brief’—a benefit incidence analysis of government spending on education and health, CSEA observed that more of the children enrolled in primary schools were from poor households— a sharp contrast to public expenditure on secondary and tertiary education, which benefits richer households.
The report noted that in the health sector, the poorest households were the least likely to report sicknesses and seek treatment—making them minority users of government health services.
“Another analysis known as progressivity and targeting test, was carried out using benefit concentration curves for both sectors. The results show that Nigeria’s in-kind subsidy is poorly targeted,” the report said.
According to the report, in spite of the impressive growth performance in recent years, Federal Government spending in most sectors, especially social sectors remains inadequate and skewed against the poor.
“This is in addition to the problem of poor service delivery and lack of public expenditure accountability. In effect, this pattern of pattern of service delivery that provides fewer public/merit goods to the poor income families has raised doubts on government’s sensitivity to the plight of citizens.
“It also casts doubt on the quality of government policies, which many say are not evidence driven. This Benefit Incidence Analysis (BIA) attempts to provide some insights on how the Nigerian government has managed its resources towards meeting the needs of the citizens, especially the poor,” the report said.
Although it commended the government for targeting most of its expenditure and subsidies in the primary education sub-sector on the poor, the report noted that there was the need to redirect its subsidies in secondary and higher education to the poor.
Expenditure in the health sector is pro-rich for hospitals and health centres, it also observed.,
To ensure a better targeting of resources, the report advocated that the mechanism for providing scholarships bursaries, and loans as well as health insurance should be redesigned so as to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups while the accessibility of government facilities to disadvantaged groups should be considered in order to reduce catastrophic out-of-pocket spending by these groups.
It also recommended that health insurance schemes should be strengthened to enhance access of the poor to healthcare delivery while measures be evolved to improve the quality of service delivery with a view to improving the rate of utilisation of government services.