BudgIT Foundation, a civic-tech organisation, has criticised the government for omitting the Niger Delta Development Commission’s (NDDC) capital budget from the entire 2022 budget.
The organisation, in a press release by BudgIT’s Communications Associate, Iyanu Fatoba, expressed concern over the lack of transparency in the finances of the agency.
The foundation also addressed critical issues observed in the proposed budget such as the continuous unrealistic revenue projections, soaring year-on-year debt burden and weak accountability structure, among others.
BudgIT’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Gabriel Okeowo, said the omission of NDDC’s entire capital budget allocation from the proposed 2022 budget and public scrutiny is a source of concern.
According to him, the scale of alleged corruption and diversion of public funds has afflicted this federal agency since its inception has made the omission critical.
Okeowo added, “NDDC receives an average of N198.7 billion per year from the operating budgets of oil companies (between 2016 and 2018) in addition to the annual Statutory Transfers it receives from the federal government (the latter which is projected to be N98.7bn in the 2022 budget).
“The list of new and ongoing projects to be embarked upon by NDDC with this estimated N198.7bn in the year 2022 is glaringly missing from the 2,168-page 2022 FG budget details document and the 2022 Appropriations Bill sent to the National Assembly.”
BudgIT called for cautious optimism, especially as the proposed 2022 spending plan comes with N6.26 trillion deficit, 80% of which would be borrowed.
Okeowo added, “The size of FG’s new borrowing plans in 2022 is a serious cause for concern, especially as the FG spent over 90% of all its revenue in servicing old debts between January 2020 and June 2021. Also, FG’s 2022 deficit of N6.26 trillion represents 3.39% of Nigeria’s GDP, which is above the 3% threshold set in Section 12(1) of the 2007 Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA).”
Speaking on the N10.13 trillion 2022 revenue target, BudgIT’s Head of Research and Policy Advisory, Abel Akeni, said, “As of June 30, 2021, FG already missed its half-year 2021 projected revenue as it raised only N2.31trillion or 69.64 percent of the expected N3.31 trillion 2021 half-year projection as reflected in FG’s Budget Implementation Report.
“Making unrealistic revenue projections has serious implications on the country’s spiraling debt burden, as more funds would have to be borrowed to meet up with contractual commitments for public projects entered into in anticipation of high revenues.
“The alternative to borrowing more when revenue targets are missed is to have more abandoned projects in 2022 which would be an unwelcome addition to the 11,880 public sector projects that have been abandoned in the past 40years by different administrations at the federal and sub-national levels.”