By Ndubuisi Francis
Some Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government with huge debts may be denied capital votes in 2013, Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), Dr. Bight Okogu hinted Tuesday.
Okogu, who spoke in Abuja at a consultative meeting on the 2013 Budget with Organised Private Sector (OPS) and Civil Societies Organisations (CSOs), said such MDAs’ allocations would be channelled into offsetting their indebtedness.
According to him, such a step had become necessary due to paucity of funds, noting that it behoved on the MDAs to prioritise some of their ongoing projects based on their internal rate of return and level of completion.
“The fiscal consolidation efforts would be sustained because there is need for prudence in the management of public financial resources. Given resource constraints, we propose the following strategy to allocate capital vote; no new project will be allowed in the 2013 budget.
“MDAs need to prioritize a few of their ongoing projects based on the projects internal rate of return and level of completion. Some MDAS with large debts may not receive capital votes as their allocation will be used to pay off their debt,” he said, adding that that about 630 of MDAs’ projects which required N7 trillion to complete are currently ongoing.
Okogu said that priority sectors such as security, power, works, agriculture, Niger Delta, aviation, health, education, transport and job creation would receive 80 per cent of the country’s capital vote.
The Federal Government, he said, is currently negotiating with the National Assembly to cut down allocations meant for their constituency projects, adding that the recurrent expenditure which was trending down from 74.4 per cent in 2011 to 71.5 per cent would further be reduced in 2013.
According to him, this would be achieved through a combination of measures such as rationalisation of agencies, recovery of excessive claims on subsidy and cautious benchmark on oil prices.
At the forum yesterday, the Citizens Wealth Platform (CWP), a group of non-governmental and faith based organisations urged the Federal Government to avoid all illegitimate and wasteful expenditures in the 2013 budget.
The group’s position was contained in a memo presented at the event to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
The meeting was convened to get the contributions of stakeholders in order to serve as the basis for the preparations of the 2013 fiscal document.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Mr. Eze Onyekwere also faulted the 2013 budget process saying the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, which should have been the basis for the preparation of the fiscal document had not been prepared and approved.
He said, “CWP has a few concerns about the process leading to this forum. First is that the 2013 budget should be predicated on the 2013-2015 MTEF.
“Secondly, there is no single budget implementation report for the year 2012, best practices demands mid year review of the 2012 budget.”
Continuing, he added, “We consider it absurd that a government that wants to make optimum use of available resources should budget billions of naira in refreshment and meals for MDAs. It appears that the budget is filled with apparent slush funds that any reasonable person cannot identify the use to which such votes are to be put.
“There is need to remove all illegitimate and wasteful expenditure. All votes in the budget must be for specific and identifiable purposes and thus should not just be known to MDAs officials alone but to the public through the way and manner it stated in the budget.”