Publish Your ‘Actual Expenditure,’ Justify N125bn 2017 Budget, BudgIT Tasks NASS

Following recent bickering over padding and doctoring of the 2018 Federal budget between the Presidency and National Assembly, Civic tech transparency group- BudgIT, on Wednesday challenged the National Assembly on the lack of transparency of its budget process.

In a series of tweets, reacting to the adjustments to the nation’s spending plan recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, BudgIT urged “NASS to publish its detailed actual expenditure that justifies its 2017 budget of N125bn.”

It noted that “NASS made a poor defence of the increase in its budget by N14.5bn by stating that funding for other statutory agencies were increased and also mentioned need to overhaul to security architecture of the complex of the complex.”

At a time the legislators jerked up their allocation, BudgIT wondered why they cut strategic funding for for tertiary health institutions in the country by 80% from N6bn recommended by the executive to just N1.2bn.

“We find this very wrong that the National Assembly reduced funding for tertiary health institutions. A supplementary budget should be sent,” BudgIT added.

On the cut in the appropriation for the Mambilla Power Plant from N8.5bn to N8.2bn, the organization believes it would not significantly affect the construction of the road in one appropriation cycle, but urged the Presidency to make available the N8.2bn to kickstart the project.

BudgIT noted that the Bonny-Bodo project was reduced from N10bn to N9.05bn and not N8.7bn as claimed by the executive, just as it urged the executive to provide details on funds released so far for the Lagos-Ibadan expressed way which was reduced by N2.5bn, while urging the National Assembly to partner on the matter.

The NASS reduced allocation to the project to N20.5bn, from N22.52bn, representing a N2.5bn or 12.46%.

BudgIT also questioned the rational for the cut in appropriation to the Itakpe-Ajaokuta Rail Project from N6.91bn to N1.41bn; stressing also that the justification by the Senate for cutting funding for104 Unity Schools across the country by N3bn did not make sense. The NASS explanation that additional N3.7bn was added to the budget for meal subsidies in these schools and creating new budget lines for meal susbsidies do not match the same priorities.

The NASS, BudgIT noted, did not give explanation for cutting funding for housing projects, wondering whether the legislators are not interested in the project.

“Allocation for the provision of federal government’s national housing programme was cut by N8.78bn from N35.41bn to N26.65bn. We need to ask questions,” it added.

BudgIT also expressed worry over the NASS decision to cut funds for pension redemption fund from N112.2bn to N110.2bn and public service wage adjustment from N43.14bn to N40.14bn, which the NASS did not specifically respond to.

The executive was enjoined to make supplementary budget for the cut in take-off grant for the Maritime University in Delta from N5bn to N3.4bn.