The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has said that the N7.298tn 2017 budget estimate which is 20.4 percent higher than 2016 estimates of N6.07tn should be reduced by as much as N146bn.
The lead director of the centre Barrister Eze Onyekpere who presented a report on the budget under the aegis of Citizens Wealth Platform (CWP) told journalists in Abuja that the budget estimate contains ‘frivolous, unclear and wasteful expenditure” and should be corrected to remove all expenditures that are of no value to the nation and citizens.
“The annual ritual of demanding for computers and software, bloated refreshment and meals, purchase of vehicles is still the norm. Every MDAs wants a vote for annual budget expenses and administration after provisions have been made for their personnel costs which should have covered this demand,” Onyekpere said.
“Some MDAs play on words which at the end of the day means same things and that money many be drawn from the treasury for nebulous purposes.”
The report query why the State House budget over N100m for canteen and kitchen equipment less than 12 months that over N80m was slated for same reason in 2016 budget and that the N4.9 billion for annual maintenance of mechanical and electrical installations did not reflect the stand of a government that want the citizens to cut costs due to economic downturn.
On the budget provisions by the office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF) which on Monday was defended by the SGF Babachir David Lawal, the report wonder why over N163m, N237m and N515m was budgeted for welfare packages, subscription to professional bodies and computer software acquisition respectively while these were already contained in the personnel votes and also previous years budgets.
The report also listed the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), NEMA, EFCC, BPP, Federal Ministry of Health, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), FRSC, NACA, National Boundary Commission (NBC) and Federal Ministry of Education among others that repeated line items or used different words for same project.
He also urged the National Assembly to reduce its total vote of N115 billion to N110 billion due to the austere times and to demonstrate solidarity with Nigerians going through hardship.
He said, “The 2017 budget needs to be reworked to focus on pro-poor priorities for improved production, service delivery and increasing national wealth.”