10 October 2011
FINANCE Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said that the 2012 Federal Budget Proposal would be ready for presentation to the National Assembly in the first week of next month at the latest. It may therefore come six weeks earlier than the 2011 budget, which reached the legislature on December 16, 2010.
The minister also said that the level of budget implementation would improve if the 2012 budget contained projects, particularly ongoing ones that could be fully executed instead of introducing many new projects. Sadly, that essence of budgeting, to identify priority projects for execution within available resources, has been lost at great cost to the blind rivalry between the executive and legislative arms. To illustrate, last June the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee found that MDAs were executing at least 11,886 projects. That number, which presumably includes constituency projects, average 33 projects per constituency for members of the House of Representatives and 109 projects per senatorial constituency. The total cost of the projects is N7.78 trillion or N655 million per project. Meanwhile, the sum of N2.696 trillion had been paid to contractors. Being uncompleted, the projects did not deliver the intended services to any constituents across the country. The expenditure on them averages N7.5 billion per House of Representatives constituency or N24.7 billion per senatorial constituency. It represents unconscionable waste of scarce resources. Yet, by taking turns to execute the projects, the amount already sunk into them was enough to construct and commission 4,116 projects nationwide, some 11 projects per House of Representatives constituency or at least 37 projects per senatorial constituency. That approach would have allowed some elements of the population to enjoy the services derivable from the public projects.
It is therefore imperative that the 2012 budget should concentrate on completing a number of the unfinished projects on the basis of priority