Expert Charges FG on Value for Money

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Godwin Ifijeh

A Transparency, Business and Value for Money Consultant and Strategist has charged the Federal Government to embrace the concept and practice of Value for Money (VfM) to drive its current crusade against corruption, arguing that the problem of the country has more to do with the neglect for Value for Money than poor revenue generation.

Mr. Sam S.O Afemikhe, Founder and Managing Director, SS Afemikhe Consulting Limited, who made the submission in a paper entitled: “Performance Measurement & Benchmarking as a Pillar of Value for Money in Public Finance” at the recently concluded National Council of Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) Summit in Collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance in Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital, said the ‘Nigerian disease’ is wrongly diagnosed as “Revenue Shortage” instead of poor Value for Money.

“Historically, revenue has never been the problem of this country but how to get value …best value for expenditure”, he said, commending the Minister of Finance for setting up the Efficiency Unit in the ministry and bringing value for money to the national discourse and consciousness, which, according to him, isa first step towards the pursuit of Value for Money. He explained that the Efficiency Unit will not fully deliver Value for Money for the Nation without the Economy and Effectiveness elements of the 3Es (Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness ) of Value for Money and the Measurement and Assurance Perspectiveoffered by Value Analysis and Performance Measurement & Benchmarking (PM&B).

The fellow of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) tasked the Finance Ministry to organize a forum to brainstorm on the importance and desirability of setting up the framework to pursue Value for Money as a cure for the Nigerian current disease of spending money without a matching output or outcome benefit, stressing that a comprehensive application of Value for Money in the nation’s public finances has become urgently necessary because of limited resources, the clear evidence of waste, bloated cost of completed projects viewed against those of her comparator countries, lack of clear connection between public expenditure and public benefits and the need for increased transparency and accountability, given especially the level of public expenditure.

Citing Peter Drucker’s claim that what get measured gets done, Afemikhe drew a correlation between performance measurement, benchmarking, value analysis and the success of value for money, pointing out that performance measurement is an important tool for evaluating value for money in the public sector. He suggested that government immediately sets up a Performance Measurement & Benchmarking Unit in every ministry, department and agency to be coordinated centrally by the Finance Ministry and deplore data from the units to create a government Performance Forum. Planned projects , he said, should be forecast benchmarked to establish baseline and to ensure that planned values are always delivered and actual value is regularly compared with baseline to ensure that overrun in cost, schedule business case and technical are minimized or completely eliminated.

“Completed projects,” he continued, “should be benchmarked against plans in response and answers to the question, how did we do, did we obtain value for money and what lessons can we learn while actual lessons learnt are not only implemented to ensure that poor performance is not continuously repeated, but government as a necessity should adopt value for money audits”.

The Value for Money Consultant and Strategist further stressed that “the pursuit of value for money must be applied with vigour, value for money is doing the right things and doing things right, we must deploy modern systems, tools and technology that our peers applied so potently to make progress or we continue to languish in poverty. We must totally embrace transparency (light), it is the best weapon against corruption and fraud; court prosecution, moral suasion etc do not work and in fact, may be medicine after death. Imagine where the country would have been today if we spent the $717 billion (N89.9 trillion) that we earned between 1981 and 2015 with value for money in our minds.

“Implementation of Value for Money in our public finances will liberate the Nigerian economy, considerably reduce corruption and fraud (if not eliminate it completely), save the funds spent in running corrupt people around the courts, transform our infrastructure and enhance our Human Development Index (HDI), that is when we will start to match our realities with our potentials.”