New Telegraph

September 27, 2023

‘2022 budget loaded with frivolities worth N227.1bn’

Experts say fuel subsidy removal’ll save Nigeria N2trn

The 2022 budget is loaded with frivolous and wasteful estimates in the region of N227.1 billion, Citizens Wealth Platform (CWP), a platform of nongovernmental and faithbased organisations claimed on Thursday in Abuja. CWP also said removal of fuel subsidy by government would save Nigeria N2 trillion.

Analyzing some of the items contained in the 2022 budget and the amount of money allocated to them, the group said most of the items were frivolous and wasteful, noting that they had been repeatedly captured in the previous budgets. Briefing the media yesterday in Abuja, CWP Coordinator and Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Barrister Eze Onyekpere, noted that the 2022 budget like the ones before it was loaded with lots of frivolous and unclear wasteful expenditure. Areas of wasteful allocation pointed out by Onyekepre include provision of over N260 billion service wide votes for special intervention and poverty reduction, which he described as worrisome.

He said over the years, there has not been evidence of benefits to the population accruing from the votes. “But the authorities insist on continuing a practice without visible benefit. Several programmes in many MDAs have received multi-year funding for skill acquisition and employment creation. It’s imperative to demand for reports of achievements in terms of output and outcomes and the value for statement of previous investments,” he said. He cited the example of 12 River Basin Development Authority, which sit on thousands of acres of public land, yet to be allocated the sum of N50 million for clearing of 5,000-hectare farmland in Auchi, Edo state by the Benin Owena RBDA. “From the time of former President Olusegun Obasanjo till date, we have been seeing items being used as slush funds in the budget,“ he said.

Onyekpere frowned on Federal Government’s plan to borrow N126.925 billion for the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) project. He wondered why the Federal Government should borrow so much for a national identity card scheme when a majority of Nigerians have not got the card 10 years after their identities have been captured. He said that the 2022 Appropriation Act should contain an explicit provision abolishing fuel subsidies, under-recovery or any subsidy on petroleum motorspiritbywhatevername called or under any guise whatsoever. This, he noted, would save the nation not less than N2 trillion and make same available for the Federation Account. According to Onyekpere, not less than 60 per cent of the savings accruing from abolishingthesubsidyshouldbechanneled to dedicated ring-fenced (statutory) expenditure in education and health.

On the national identity card, he opined that the commission should be called to question over N126.925 billion to be borrowed. “Why do we need to borrow so much for a national identity card scheme? Can the commission explain why the identity cards have not reached a majority of Nigerians whose identities have been captured over 10 years since the scheme kicked off?” he asked. The group also picked holes on the N2.915 billion revenue expected from the minerals and mining sector, saying that it is grossly underestimated.

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