Nigerian civil society watchdog Budgit recently published a list of frivolous items in Nigeria’s 2017 budget. As I went through the line items, I could not understand how a country undergoing an economic recession can afford to be so wasteful. Across all ministries, the extent of waste is alarming. What upsets me even more is that these huge sums are being spent on recurrent expenditure which add little value to the productive capacity of our economy. But I think what hurts more is the fact that this budget was prepared by an administration that campaigned on the basis of a more prudent use of our national resources. What a shame!
Let’s take a look at the characteristics of this proposed N7.29 trillion budget :
- There are loads of vague and ambiguous expenditure. The Ministry for Information & culture for instance has proposed to spend 1,917,133, 260 for ‘government and institutional reforms’.
What does this even mean? What part of the government and institutions are being reformed? How is this reform going to take place? What activities constitute this reform process? How much do each of these activities cost? These are the questions that this Ministry’s budget fails to answer. I don’t understand how a whole N2 billion expenditure can just be inserted in the project in such an arbitrary manner. It is unacceptable, Nigerians deserve to know the nitty-gritty of all government expenditure.
- Second, it is either these Ministries are just plain wasteful or they just enjoy filling up the budget with irrelevant items or both. Take the Ministry of Trade & Investment for example. The image below shows how the same items which were purchased less than a year ago are being repurchased again and for no apparent reason. I see no reason why power generating plants or computers should be purchased annually, especially as there is no evidence that the Ministry is undergoing some sort of expansion or suchlike. Or could it be that all of the generating plans and computers purchased last year are now all damaged beyond repair? Highly unlikely!
- Third, some things are just downright outrageous, ridiculous and sobering.How do you explain the over 3005 increase in sewage charges from N18.7 million in 2016 to N76.4 million in 2017?
Guys, these items I highlighted above are just a tip of the iceberg, you can view the entire list of the frivolous items here.
It is rather unfortunate that public resources are being used in such a frivolous manner. The opportunity cost of this wasteful expenditure is high and we cannot even afford it. We need investments in industries which have the potential to create jobs that are badly needed. Spending these huge sums on bloated ministries does nothing to get us out of this recession. Like I said here, there is a huge opportunity cost attached to government expenditure, all of the money that would be potentially spent on these frivolous items can not be spent on health, education, infrastructure etc.