It is like this nation is held down perpetually by unseen forces in the areas of budgeting and budget implementation. But some analysts can argue that the problem is not limited to fiscal and monetary aspects of our nation’s life but indeed in all other sectors. This issue receives constant attention of this newspaper because a nation’s economy is governed by annual income and expenditure profile which is encapsulated in the document called national budget act.
For, how can any sane person explain the unending practice of poor budgeting in this country which has poor implementation as its cornerstone? Nigeria, a developing nation by all standards in the 1960s before the disastrous military intervention has been moving on reverse gear from the military regime up to the present time. And the crux of the misfortune has to do with poor budget implementation practice which has refused to go no matter the administration in power.
As we write, the 2018 national budget is still with the National Assembly after its presentation in November last year. The Assembly members are just returning from Christmas break of three weeks without any visible sign that the budget will not go the way of others before now. Many questions are already being raised on the budget by the national legislatures that have the constitutional right to examine the budget presented to them by the executive properly before passing it into law as an Act of the National Assembly.
But the issue is: what is hard in preparing national budget on time and presenting same to the National Assembly early enough for the law makers to scrutinize and pass it into law? The whole matter bothers on unseriousness with which our leaders attach to governance in this country especially at the national level. Indeed many state governments have signed into law, their 2018 budgets either before the 2017 ended or early this year. Those states recognized the fact that budget is a one calendar document which ought to start in January and end in December of that particular year.
But at the national level, this has never been the case at least since the current democratic dispensation came into being in 1999. From the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo up till the current regime, no national budget have started from January and ended in December. Rather, what is done is roll-over the budget to the next year and operate it up to second quarter while the budget that supposed to run from the beginning of that year will be marred by controversies between the executive and the legislature.
This usually results to padding, poor oversight functions by the legislatures and implementation failure at the end. The 2017 national budget was passed on June 6, 2017 by the National Assembly and signed into law about three weeks later. As at December of last year, implementation of capital component of the budget was less than 50 per cent. The 2017 budget is still running and nobody can predict when the 2018 budget will be passed. This means that the country is being run on ad-hoc basis. And no nation that operates this way ever progresses and this is why we are still crawling as a nation while citizens suffer.
We at The AUTHORITY call on the government, both the executive and legislature, to put this country first by making budget matters a serious affair as it is done in other civilized countries across the world. Both arms of government should sit down and determine how to make this matter a thing of the past because national or state budget has to do with the economic life of the people. A situation where the recurrent aspect of the budget which does not add anything to development plans are cleaned out and capital side is poorly implemented is bad enough and should be stopped.