BUDGET 2013: SHARED PROSPERITY OR DELIBERATE RETROGRESSION? The reaction of the Congress for Progressive Change (Kwara State Chapter) to the 2013 budget proposal presented by the Governor to the Kwara State House of Assembly.

Filed under: Political Issues |

The word “prosperity” is a huge word that the Government of Abdulfatai Ahmed has continued to thoughtlessly and recklessly use to describe its aspirations. But is there anything prosperous about the 2012 and 2013 Budgets of the state? The CPC makes bold to say NO! From all indications, instead of the Government to use the budgets meaningfully to develop the needs of the people, change its strategic focus in the manner that will enable it increase the IGR and reduce its dependence on Federal Allocation, increase capital investment in social and physical infrastructure and to create the conditions for the diversification of the economy, it has reduced the entire budget process to an annual ritual for PDP-led government to slice the fiscal pie into various expenditure subheads that often fail to improve the welfare of the state.

While appraising the 2012 budget utilisation and implementation during the presentation of the 2013 budget, the Governor alluded to sinking of boreholes across the state, filling of potholes, painting of selected classrooms and even the disbursement of CBN powered Agric loans as part of his strategic achievements. Pray, how more hopeless and directionless can a State be in the 21st century? How can the Governor still be counting the sinking of boreholes and provision of chairs and tables in primary schools as one of his major achievements at this age?

The 2013 is not only short on details but out rightly defective in organisation. For example, the Governor captioned a subhead as “OTHER SECTORS” with a whopping allocation of Eight Billion, Four Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, Six Hundred and Fifty-Four Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety Seven Naira (NGN8,458,654,797.00). For crying out loud, what constitutes the nebulous “other sectors”? What could be so clandestine in the strange subhead that the public does not deserve to know, especially in this era where further details about the budget are never published for the rest of the year for public scrutiny?

Judging by the budget proposal, it’s obvious that the PDP-led Government in the state is incompetence personified. From the face of the budget, the Recurrent Expenditure is almost 60% of the total estimates. This kind of projection absolutely falls short of the ideal budgetary requirement for a rural state like Kwara. The UNDP requires that a minimum of 70% should be reserved for Capital expenditure of developing African states like Kwara in order to achieve accelerated and sustainable growth. Pray, how does the state under the PDP hope to achieve this with a budgetary outlook where the internally generated revenue is not even enough to offset its overhead cost let alone personnel cost with a combined strength of over 25Billion Naira? And to worsen the situation, there is an unprecedented level of wrongful spending priorities, income inequality and poor investment in social services.

Fatai, like many other PDP Governors, is spending the state resources on a very small circle of political jobbers while the general populace gets poorer and more hopeless. Because how do we rationalise a situation where the Government proposes to purchase another fleet of aircrafts for an Aviation College that is already being handed over to the so-called Aviation Training and Consulting Institute of Dubai (as alluded to by the Governor himself), that is generally rumoured to be fronting for a prominent politician in the state? Why should the Government further expend billions of Naira on a Multi Billion Naira White Elephant Cargo Terminal that has remained useless and idle since it was built by Bukola Saraki? This Cargo Terminal was meant to decongest Lagos Port but because Bukola realised, albeit lately, the wastefulness of the project, he went begging the Federal Government to refund the over 2Billion Naira allegedly expended on the project, which has not been forthcoming. Now Fatai has proposed to spend another Billion on the same project. How would a sane Government attempt to filter away more cash on the same controversial project?

To us at the CPC, these are all symptoms of a wasteful spending, wrongful priorities and utter lack of clear cut developmental vision and plans for the state. If the Government cares to know, the feeling on the street is that of despair and regret. The public expected so much from a Governor that prides himself as a technocrat. But from all indications, he is no different from the old brigade that stumbled on power, thereby failed to put together any visionary plan for the uplift of the state.

It is thus imperative that since the state is not in all practical purposes fiscally self-sufficient, holistic effort needs to be geared towards slimming down the size and cost of government. The Governor, instead of running the state like a charity home that goes cap in hand to Abuja every month for cash, should evolve a viable, sustainable and aggressive revenue drive that will be beneficial both to the government and especially the governed.

Also, the continuous over-estimation of income of the state that constantly falls short will surely lead to deficit. Take for instance the 2012 budget. The Government was only able to balance out its revenue deficit by virtue of the income which was not included in the estimates but was paid by the Federal Government e.g. Excess Crude Oil Revenue Reserve Fund, Multilateral Debt Refund and Refund on the 0.75 Commission charged on Paris Debt Refunds. Why is the government overshooting its capacity when we all know quite well that the state economic policy direction does not support any viable independent revenue generation drive?

The state Government should do away with what Ilorin people call “karimi” Projects. “Karimi” projects are those gigantic projects that gulp huge expenses without either a commensurate revenue flow to the purse of the state or are of any benefit to the poor masses. The state should aspire to make all MDAs a significant revenue generating centres. With this, we in the CPC believe that posterity will remember Fatai Ahmed as either a Governor that came and did owambe Government and left without a trace or a Governor that charted an enviable course for his poor people.

Thank you.