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BudgIT to lawmakers: Eliminate corruption loopholes in 2022 budget

BudgIT, a civic-tech organisation, leading the advocacy for fiscal transparency and accountability in Nigeria, has called on the National Assembly to eliminate infractions and corruption loopholes in the 2022 approved budget. The organisation made the call yesterday after it published its 2022 Federal Government Budget Analysis Consultative Memo titled, “Leveraging Budget Reforms for Economic Development.”

It noted that its preliminary analysis of the 21,108 capital projects in the 2022 approved budget revealed 460 duplicated projects amounting to N378.9billion. Further analysis of the budget also revealed other infractions and corruption loopholes that, according to BudgIT, need to be urgently reviewed by the National Assembly in its current budget review process. Specifically, BudgIT said that it noticed that some projects linked to MDAs that do not have the mandate to execute them were directly connected to the leadership of the legislative arm of government.

Citing the cumulative allocation of N1.45billion to the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institution and Nigerian Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation in Ilorin, Kwara State, to construct the “Femi Gbajabiamila Public Junior Secondary School, Itire Ikate,” Budg- IT noted that “both agencies in Kwara State have no expertise in supervising the construction or staffing of a school in Lagos State when the country has a Federal Ministry of Education.” It also cited the allocation of N1billion to the Nigerian Institute of Marine and Oceanography to install street lights in Delta Central Senatorial District, represented by Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President, as well as the timeframe within which the “6,576 capital projects were generated and inserted into the FG budget by legislators.”

The organisation said in a statement that it had valid concerns on whether the Project Design Documents (PDD) were created as required by the 2022 Budget Public Investment Guidelines. “A poorly designed and costed public sector project is almost destined to fail ab initio and lead to poor value for money for taxpayers. Also, the insertions of these 6,576 projects bloated the budgets of different federal ministries, contributing further to a breach of the budget ceiling safeguards announced by the Budget Office of the Federation on August 19, 2021,” it said. Commenting on capital budget padding, Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s Country Director, said: “Several projects do not meet the definition for capital expenditures, according to the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

“For example, N5.6billion allocated to over 150 meetings, conferences, and board meetings was listed as capital expenditures across different MDAs. Another case is the N28million allocated to the Federal Ministry of Information & Culture for quarterly interaction with Foreign Media/ Pr Lobby in its capital budget.

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