There are key issues of concern which we have on a yearly basis identified as frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful expenditure. The Citizens Wealth Platform always sends copies of its pullout of these estimates every year to every senator and member of the House of Representatives and makes them available to all Nigerians. Some of the issues identified this year include the following.
(i) Purchase of Motor Vehicles: This is a common request across many MDAs. How do we determine genuine from frivolous requests? Should NASS demand an inventory of existing vehicles? There is need for justification before every approval. The demand for vehicles is even specifically tied to some foreign brands. This is wrong under the Public Procurement Act as only the functional specifications of a product should be in the budget. Coming at a time of dwindling national resources and the operationalisation of National Automobile Policy, NASS needs to have a clause in the budget to ensure the mainstreaming of local content in budgetary procurement. This will not only spur local economic activities; the companies will pay a higher CIT if they make more profits, put Nigerians in jobs whilst at the same time, those employed will pay personal income tax – a win win scenario. Therefore all the requests for a BMW from the Presidency and the reported Prado of the American specification to be used as pool cars by the Senate should be replaced by locally produced cars from Peugeot, Innoson Motors, etc.
(ii) Welfare Packages: The quantum of resources budgeted for welfare packages across MDAs are high. After provisions have been made for personnel expenses, this budget line is of doubtful legality. Consider removing them from the budget.
(iii) Software: This seems to be the new buzzword and approach to get funds out of the Treasury as virtually every MDA made the request. NASS should thoroughly scrutinise the requests and engage experts to determine whether the costs are justifiable.
(iv) Computers: Every MDA presented an estimate for new computers. But this is an annual ritual and this raises the poser of the lifespan of a laptop or desktop before it is scrapped. Computers should be approved only on the basis of proven need.
(v) Uniforms and clothing: It is not every MDA that need uniforms and clothing. So the requests need to be reviewed on the basis of need by MDAs.
(vi) Refreshment and Meals: Should every MDA get a vote for refreshment and meals? The votes should be reviewed in line with the mandates of MDAs.
(vii) Subscription to Professional Bodies: This is another recurring vote in every MDA after a fairly huge sum has been provided under the vote of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (N265.1m) and under the SWV (N208m). This should be considered on an MDA basis and the vote in the SGF’s office and SWV reprogrammed for other purposes.
(viii) Maintenance of Office Building/Residential Qtrs: The sums requested by many MDAs under this heading are incredible; sometimes higher than what would have been paid as rent for such building and enough to construct a modest building. They should be reviewed downwards.
(ix) Budget Preparation: Budget preparation should not be a line item attracting a vote. It is a part of the core functions of an MDA. Consider re-programming the sums voted for this.
(x) Residential Rent: This line item raises so many issues. Where are we with the monetisation programme? Is anyone allowed to enjoy the monetised package whilst still demanding the same services to be paid out of the budget? NASS should enforce the monetisation law and stop these demands.
(xi) Absence of Price Database? Different MDAs are putting up different estimates for the same item. It seems there is no updated standard price database that should be used by MDAs in preparing the annual budget estimates. The National Assembly should mandate the Bureau of Public Procurement to ensure an update to any existing database. A good number of requests were based on excessive prices.
(xii) Others: The share of administrative capital to developmental capital is on the high side considering a good number of the foregoing request from MDAs. Monies freed from the wasteful expenditure should be re-channelled to developmental capital expenditure. The Budget Office of the Federation needs to be moved to prepare MDA specific templates for budget preparation rather than the current omnibus template where everyone asks for the same line items whether needed or not.
A total sum of N668,880,248,616.25 (Six Hundred and Sixty Eight Billion, Eight Hundred and Eighty Million, Two Hundred and Forty Eight Thousand, Six Hundred and Sixteen Naira, Twenty Five kobo) has been identified as resources to be saved and re-programmed. We hope the National Assembly will do the needful and re-programme these resources for the public good.
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Frivolous And Wasteful Expenditure In 2016 Federal Budget