Obinna Chima and Nume Ekeghe
The chief executive of BudgIT, a civic organisation, Mr. Seun Onigbinde tuesday revealed that contrary to statements by some government officials that some of the recovered funds by the federal government had been used to fund the 2017 budget, findings by his organisation showed otherwise.
Speaking at the Meet-the-Executive’ forum organised by members of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) in Lagos, Onigbinde said none of the recovered funds have been used to fund the budget.
He explained: “Based on the budget analysis we have done, there is no amount of recovered funds put into the budget. It is only in 2019 and in 2020, that there is a plan to put out almost N300 billion of such in the budget.
“But that is still in 2019 and that means there is no certainty today that even part of the 2018 budget, there would be any inflow of recovered funds.”
Onigbinde described Nigeria’s annual budget as a ‘contract vending machine,’ instead of a planning document.
“Nigeria’s budget is a contract vending machine rather than a planning document. This is because a typical budget will first bring all the arms of government today and follow the goals of the ruling party.
“Then, everything you will see in the budget in terms of allocation will follow that pattern. But here, every arm wants to stuff things into the budget, so that it becomes a legal opportunity to procure.
“So, that is the problem. So, if we see the budget as a planning tool, part of the problem we have with the budget will not be coming up,” he added.
According to Onigbinde, after a country’s constitution, the second most important document is the budget that stipulates allocation of resources to members of the public.
He urged states to desist from going for foreign loans because of currency risks.
He added: “We are warning states to be careful of external debts. If it is a local debt, there could be a bailout by the federal government to reschedule your debt. But external debts, you don’t have the luxury of the federal government that receives oil in dollars.
“So, if you borrowed at N167 to a dollar and you are now paying back at N315 to a dollar, you are going to be more hit by the currency risk.
“So, it is a thing that we try to warn states about. So, you don’t see cheap loans and start jumping into it.”
Onigbinde argued that zero-budgeting system which the current administration promoted at the beginning of their regime can’t work in Nigeria, “because you have thousands of abandoned projects.”