The Centre for Social Justice on Tuesday picked holes in the 2018 budget proposals presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, stating that the fiscal document contained over N460bn “frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful” expenditure.
The group stated this in a report made available to our correspondent by its Lead Facilitator, Mr. Eze Onyekpere.
The group called on the lawmakers to critically review the fiscal document in order to remove all the expenditure that would not impact positively on the lives of the people.
It recommended that many expenditure in the budget should be slashed, adding that this would save the country about N219.3bn.
The report read in part, “The Centre for Social Justice and its partners in the Citizens Wealth Platform have identified frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful expenditure in the federal Appropriation Bill. The documentation is sent to every member of the National Assembly to assist the passage of the annual budget.
“The term frivolous implies not having any serious purpose or value as some of the expenditure proposals cannot be supported by any high level national plan or policy. They ignore the pressing problems and challenges, while providing for the fancy, whims and caprices of the budget crafters.
“A total of N219.37bn has been identified as resources to be saved and reprogrammed by the National Assembly. We hope that the National Assembly will do the needful for the common good.”
It claimed that it had become a tradition among Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to allocate huge sums of money for expenditure items that were unclear in the budget.
Some of them are purchase of motor vehicles, software, computers, uniforms and clothing, refreshment and meals, monitoring and evaluation, as well as welfare packages.
Others are maintenance of office buildings/residential quarters, budget preparation expenses, residential rents, and capacity building, among others.
Giving a breakdown of some of the expenses that made up the unclear expenditure, the report stated that in the State House for instance, the sum of N907.1m, which was allocated for phased replacement of vehicle spare parts and tyres, was bogus and should be reduced by 50 per cent to N453.55m.
It added that the N4.86bn that was budgeted for annual routine maintenance of the Villa should be reduced by 80 per cent to N972m. The CSJ said the reduction in the maintenance cost of the Villa by 80 per cent would result into a saving of N3.88bn that could be channelled into other developmental projects.
It added, “Annual routine maintenance cannot cost so much. And there is a second sum for maintenance of office and residential quarters.
“Reduce the first and second votes by 80 per cent. There is a further sum of N92m for ‘other maintenance services’ after providing for vehicle, equipment, generator maintenance.”
The report also stated that the huge vote of N51.75bn for the Sustainable Development Goals called for vigilance and proper oversight on the part of the legislature after approval.
It noted that for over 13 years, this type of vote had been approved without Nigerians getting value and improvement in their lives for the large sums of money.
The report also cited the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, whose budget included several requests for money without specific details about what they were voted for.