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El-Rufai seeks citizens’ input in 2016 budget




KADUNA State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, at the weekend held a town hall meeting with stakeholders to discuss his N166 billion 2016 budget proposal.

The budget comprising N104 billion capital and N62 billion recurrent expenditure was presented before the citizens prior to formal presentation to the State House of Assembly next month.

Addressing stakeholders at General Hassan Katsina House, Kaduna, during the town hall meeting, Mallam El-Rufai in his speech titled, “Putting the people first: Back to budget realism,” said previous administrations in the state had reduced budgeting into a “fictographic art, with scarcely any relationship to reality.”

El-Rufai explained that huge annual budgets were approved in the past without being implemented, leaving a legacy of abandoned projects.

The governor who pointed out that he would always put the people first in all his actions, however maintained that, “the present administration is determined to make the state great again by reversing the neglect that the public interest has suffered and restore hope.”

He said in the proposed 2016 budget, one of the pro-masses programmes, included interventions in school feeding, planting of economic trees, and waste collection, which are expected to create 200,000 jobs.

According to El-Rufai: “We have called this meeting today to present to you the broad principles informing the policy choices that are reflected in the draft 2016 budget. The budget is anchored on the commitments outlined in the Restoration Programme, the manifesto platform on which the Kaduna State APC campaigned.”

“The Principles of the Draft 2016 Budget. When we formally launched our election campaign, we made it clear that the APC believes in the capacity of our people to make the best choices for themselves, if they are properly educated, given decent healthcare, and jobs in a secure environment.”

El-Rufai continued: “As I asked in an earlier speech, how can the political elite justify spending public resources mainly on an influential minority? Is it fair or justifiable that the voters should be without stake in a system that draws its legitimacy from their mandate? And this selfishness was practiced openly.

“Year after year, only the recurrent part of the budget attained perfect performance. Capital investments repeatedly suffered, sometimes reaching only one percent in some sectors or 17 percent performance overall. They had reduced budgeting into a fictographic art, with scarcely any relationship to reality. Huge annual budgets were approved without being implemented, leaving a legacy of abandoned projects.

“We knew we had to reorient the whole thrust of governance, replacing it with a culture that puts the people first. Democracy construes the people as the masters; we must obey their command to improve their lives.”

He continued: “Concurrent actions continue to establish the precise number of public sector employees and pensioners. Determined efforts to plug leakages included prohibiting the collection of cash revenues by MDAs and the prompt execution of the TSA. The umbrella view of public finances that the TSA provides helped create the basis for the transition to zero-based budgeting.

“This has allowed us to ensure that every capital line item enhances delivery of our priorities. We have firmly rejected the incremental budgeting framework, which could only yield dismal results because its numbers were never anchored on actuality or reflective of performance.

“The 2016 budget moves away from funding government to providing infrastructure and services to citizens. It restores the 60:40 ratio in favour of capital expenditure. This is in keeping with our agenda to expand access to education, healthcare, jobs and security.

“Our pro-poor programmes, including interventions in school feeding, planting of economic trees, and waste collection are expected to create 200,000 jobs. These investments in infrastructure and human capital are calculated to help the state grow at a rate that significantly surpasses the national average.”

Capital investments captured in the draft budget include: Kaduna Ring Road; comprehensive security interventions in partnership with neighbouring states; textile revival; youth entrepreneurship programmes; provision of streetlights; the statewide tree planting programme.

“Political appointees will take pay cuts as sacrifice for change. There will be no automatic annual salary increments in 2016. Duty tour allowances and estacode rates are to be reduced as well.”

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