The rapidly collapsing impact of annual national budgets on development projects that could improve the people’s living standards is generating more concerns in the Senate. Consequently, the initial talk of rushing to pass the 2020 budget proposal to restore its life cycle to its original January to December time lag is giving way to issues of quality and impact.
The Guardian investigation showed that many lawmakers were disappointed that past budgets’ performance, particularly the 2019 budget was far below average in such vital sectors as Water, Health, Education and Agriculture.
According to lawmakers, a very worrisome dimension is that despite poor budgetary votes to these key sectors, the government lacked the political will to release money for projects so budgeted for.Some also frowned at failure of the executive arm of government to adhere to the Federal Character Principle in implementing the budget, with respect to some key projects.
The former Ebonyi State governor, Sam Egwu, noted with disappointment that the state was largely ignored in many areas, as it was not recognised in capital budget implementation.He disclosed that even in the 2020 budget proposal, projects in his state were not given due consideration.
“How can a whole state be left out of a national budget, as if it doesn’t exist,” he queried.Also, former Kebbi State governor, Adamu Aleiro said in the Water Resources sector, no money was released for some key projects in the last three years, even though they were captured in the budget.He expressed worries that government could abandon irrigation projects that have serious impact on agriculture.
Similarly, Senator Lekan Mustapha (APC, Ogun State) described the envelope system of budgeting, where very insignificant allocation is given to very important projects as disastrous to the quest for meaningful development.Since President Muhammadu Buhari presented the N10.33trn 2020 budget proposal to the National Assembly last month, the document has received knocks from within and outside the Assembly, due to its failure to promote the drive to revive the ailing economy.
Senate majority leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, had submitted that, “When viewed in terms of per capita, the 2020 Capital Expenditure of N2.46trn is paltry. The Capital Budget to GDP ratio is rather too small, (about 2 percent of GDP). This amount is a mere drop in the ocean and is incapable of stimulating the economy to higher growth, wealth creation and employment generation…”