Saturday, 21 December 2019

Why Ayade's budgets are always dead on arrival financial documents

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State 

The 2020 budget passed by the Cross River State House of Assembly has little or no difference from the 2018 budget that was thought to be a super budget. The budget of N1.3 trillion the highest amongst states budgets in the nation till date is yet to see the light of the day as it has barley experienced 40% implementation rate. The 2020 budget of N1. 1 trillion which again can be said to be another super budget has outstripped the budget of 3 states in the South South put together. The idea is to infuse enough money to leverage a civil service economy in a bid to transform it to an enterprise economy. 

The Ben Ayade administration has turned out to be trading on high stakes that require huge financial outlay. Actually, the huge budgets are not unconnected with the precarious economic situation that has manifested into a deep desire in the heart of the number citizen to industrialization of the state. 

Ordinarily, some may think that after four years of operating bogus budgets, the state should have experienced some developmental change by now, but the reverse is the case as the state is still struggling to meet up with its monthly financial responsibilities despite the local government funds being consumed by the state. 

If one would only rely in the level of optimism in the budget, Cross River State should have been one of the economically advanced states in Nigeria. But a keen look into the budget shows a repetition of almost the same capital project with no economic advancement in the state. It underscores a move towards building a new Cross River, borne out of ingenuity and creative thinking hitherto lacking implementation. 

Having said that, I would like to state that our problem is not in proposing budgets; our problem is in their implementation. It is one thing to roll out a budget, yet it is another thing to implement it and achieve positive results. The development of a region is predicated on effective implementation of national budgets.

It might be necessary, at this juncture, to ask how well did the 2018, 2019 budgets fair? To what extent did they go in living up their names, figures attached to them and expectations? Such as "Budget of Kinetic Crystallization." and "Qabalistic Densification" for 2018 and 2019 respectively. To what extent did the budgets alleviate the problem of poor electricity, water supply, healthcare, education, dilapidated roads, unemployment, insecurity, etc? Are Cross Riverians faring better now compared with when we had low keyed budgets?  What systematic changes have occurred? What systematic solutions have been provided or on-going? What difference has occurred in the life of an average Cross Riverian?

That brings me to the issue of budget failure, which is the subject of this discourse. The failure of budgets in Cross River State is heart-breaking. I will want to join pessimists to call budgeting in Cross River State an annual ritual. At least to be fair to Cross River State and for the avoidance of doubt this has been the case since this present administration came into office. 

And really, how can there by change when on average, every year, 70 per cent of our budgets go for capital expenditure while only 30 per cent is for capital expenditure, yet the reverse is the case in actual implementation, because none of those projects see the light of the day. 
Faced with corruption, neither the recurrent budget nor the capital spending achieves its target. The inability of the state governments to pay salaries,(local government staff and teachers), pension benefits and other entitlements to workers underscores the failure of recurrent expenditure. Sadly enough, the Cross River State Government is gradually contracting the disease and is no longer able to pay workers' salaries as at when due.

The issue of development, which budgets are meant to address is out of the question. Looking at the embarrassing underdevelopment quagmire of the state, one can safely say that all the budgets made by this government since independence since 2016 put together, may not have recorded 40 per cent success. That is why the state stinks with pangs of underdevelopment. Trillions of naira has been appropriated since 2016 but there is little to show for it.

Every year, budgets are rolled out, each based on what suites its purpose. Cross Riverians hear about the trillions of naira earmarked for expenditure but hear nothing again about how the money was spent. The same governments that announced the budgets with fanfare at the beginning won't utter a word at the end about what happened to the money.

Rather than hear anything on accountability, what is heard is another round of budget preparation, announcement and passage in the houses of assembly. The whole thing is a vicious cycle of deceit and corruption. Nobody talks about this huge fraud that has been going on for years, the impact of which is the woeful state of affairs in the state.

There seems to be no law that compels governments to account for the previous budget before announcing a new one. As a way out, there is need for a law that would compel leaders, at all levels, to make public, at the end of each financial year, how the previous year's budget was spent, what was achieved and what is left, which would form the basis for making a new budget.

Some of the reasons Cross River State budgets suffer setbacks could be : 

1. Budgets are made with no clear objectives. Since the demise of national development planning in the early 70s, Nigerian budgets are prepared with bogus, high-sounding epithets, such as budget of Kinetic Crystalization; budget of Olimpotic Meristemasis ; budget of Qabalistic Densification etc. There is no clear-cut objective in these kinds of budgets.

2. No plan or strategy. Again with the demise of national development planning, budgets are prepared without plan or strategic framework. It is like building a huge edifice without architectural drawing.

3. No transformational ideology. There is no ideological focus. Countries may make budgets to ensure mass education; infrastructural development; agricultural cum industrial development, etc. There is no ideological underpinning in our budgets; no thinking for the future. Even if for the sake of argument one may say our budgets are ideologically focus, the question is do we always have the will power to implement them in line with the so called ideologies? 

4. Discord, rancor and acrimony. Budget preparation, presentation, passage and implementation are associated with disagreements and display of selfish interests by politicians. Releasing approved budget funds is a battle in which selfish interest and nepotism override.

5. Budgeting are done without a Medium Term Expenditure Framework MTEF  

There are several other factors but we are constrained by space to discuss. It is baffling that at the end, funds which should have been utilised may be returned as unspent budget, while the state is in ironic embarrassment

Click here and see the 6 Question every concerned Cross Riverian should ask as regards the 2020 budget of Olimpotic Meristemasis