The Chief Executive Officer, BudgIT, a civic organisation, Mr. Seun Onigbinde has described Nigeria’s annual budget as a ‘contract vending machine,’ rather than a planning document.
Onigbinde, who said this during a presentation at the ‘Meet-the-Executive’ forum organised by members of the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) in Lagos yesterday, expressed concern over the poor state of budget implementation in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s budget is a contract vending machine rather than a planning document. This is because a typical budget will first bring all the arms of government today and follow the goals of the ruling party.
“Then, everything you will see in the budget in terms of allocation will follow that pattern. But here, every arm wants to stuff things into the budget, so that its becomes a legal opportunity to procure.
“So, that is the problem. So, if we see the budget as a planning tool, part of the problem we have with the budget will not be coming up,” he added.
According to Onigbinde, after a country’s constitution, the second most important document is the budget that stipulates allocation of resources to members of the public.
“People would tell you that after the constitution of a country, the most important thing is the budget. Gradually, we are moving to a point where every single person would be able to have a conversation on the budget,” Onigbinde added.
He urged states to desist from going for foreign loans because of currency risks. He added: “We are warning states to be careful of external debts. If it is a local debt, there could be a bailout by the federal government to reschedule your debt. But external debts, you don’t have the luxury of the federal government that receives oil in dollars.
“So, if you borrowed at N167 to a dollar and you are now paying back at N315 to a dollar, you are going to be more hit by the currency risk. So, it is a thing that we try to warn states about. So, you don’t see cheap loans and start jumping into it.”
Onigbinde argued that zero-budgeting system which the current administration promoted at the beginning of their regime can’t work in Nigeria, “because you have thousands of abandoned projects.”
“Zero-based budget is that you are going to start as fresh. But we are in a phase of development where most of our projects are rolled over. I think what we need more is the same envelop budget we have been doing, but we need to make it clearer. What we are supposed to do is to make sure that the budget is detailed enough,” he said.