BudgIT Urges FG to Prioritise Capital Projects that Deliver Value

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BudgIT Foundation, a civic-tech non-governmental organisation has raised concerns over the capital projects breakdown in 2021 federal government’s Appropriation Bill.
BudgIT also implored the federal government to allocate more funds to capital projects that directly affect the welfare of the citizens.

“More importantly, it stated that it was expedient that more funds be allocated to ongoing projects to ensure the government’s commitment to their completion. Likewise, MDAs involved in splitting their Capital Expenditure to subvert checks and balances should be identified and made to face the law,” it stated in a statement.

Commenting on other issues with capital projects in the proposed budget, BudgIT’s Principal Lead, Gabriel Okeowo, was quoted to have noted that the federal government cannot afford to keep pumping the country’s limited resources into new projects while abandoned capital projects suffer inadequate investment.

“We analysed over 13,000 capital projects in the 2021 budget and observed that 55.51% of the total allocation for capital expenditure are earmarked for new projects, many of which may end up uncompleted by 2021. This is contrary to the hope Mr. President offered in his budget speech that ongoing projects will be prioritized in the 2021 Budget,” Okeowo said.
“Nigeria is currently in recession and strategic spending on capital infrastructure project completion should be a priority,” he added

The organisation stated that of the 13,343 capital projects it analysed, a sizable number of projects were, “falsely categorised as capital projects, even though in reality they are not.”

“For instance, meetings, allowances, anniversaries and celebrations were mis-categorised as capital projects. Some cases in point include; N3.3 billion for “Posting and Return Entitlement of Ambassadors and Officers” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N74.5 million allocated for “Anniversaries and Celebrations” in the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDC), N40 million for “Peculiar Allowance” in Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission, which are all categorized as capital expenditures.

“Furthermore, our analysis showed that projects between the N10 million and N50 million band represent 42.2 per cent of capital projects analysed and this might be a deliberate approach to avoid elaborate procurement plans, thereby reducing broad oversight on contracting. We think the current structure of capital projects is too wasteful, incoherent, and grossly inefficient. Whilst capital expenditure is higher in terms of value, there is a need to properly ensure that these projects deliver optimal value for Nigeria,” BudgIT stated.

It noted that, “duplication, opacity and fragmentation of line items by government agencies could present opportunities for subverting checks and balances meant for accountability. As a case in point, two line items tagged Nurse Tutor Training and Special Intervention SDG 1, were duplicated in 3 and 2 places, respectively, with different budget codes. These two line items have allocations totalling over N41 billion earmarked for them, without specific descriptions.”