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Q3 2018 capital budget records dismal implementation

By Mathias Okwe (Assistant Business Editor, Abuja) 
26 May 2019   |   4:04 am
There are strong indications that the bulk of N2.079t released by the Ministry of Finance as at May 14 for the implementation of projects by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) may still be lodged at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Finance Minister, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed

• 16 MDAs Record Zero Activity
• 17 Others Below Average Performance
• Eight Get Average Score Of 32%
• Only Public Complaints Commission Recorded 100% Activity

There are strong indications that the bulk of N2.079t released by the Ministry of Finance as at May 14 for the implementation of projects by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) may still be lodged at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Minister of Finance Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, last week, said that the amount was for the implementation of projects captured under capital votes in the 2018 fiscal spending plan by the MDAs.

But snippets from the Third Quarter 2018 budget implementation report exclusively obtained by The Guardian indicate that President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministers may have been largely indolent, as very little of actual work has been done.

No thanks to their inability to draw the funds released by the Federal Government to remediate the ugly situation in the country and better the lot of the citizenry.

According to the reports obtained from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) and the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), only one agency, that is the Public Complaints Commission, which is not among big spending MDAs was able to access its budgetary allocation during the period and deployed it.

The other MDAs, including key spending Ministry of Defence; Ministry of Works, Power and Housing; Education Ministry; Health Ministry; Niger Delta Ministry and that of the Federal Capital Territory, either recorded below average of 32 per cent, or average execution at the end of the third quarter on September 30 last year.

All these are happening in the face of daunting challenges, ranging from worsening insecurity, poor healthcare services and falling standard of education.

Perhaps, the low utilisation of released funds by MDAs explains Ahmed’s inability to give highlights of projects for which the said N2.079t was expended on, last Thursday.

According to the reports, a total of ₦441.84b was released and cash-backed to MDAs for their 2018 capital projects and programmes. The sum of ₦356.72b was released in the first batch or warrant, and ₦85.02b as Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIEs). But implementation was discouragingly dismal. 

The Director-General of the BOF, Ben Akabueze, however blamed the poor execution on the late passage of the 2018 budget, which forced the implementation of the 2017 spending plan to spill over to 2018.

Akabueze said: “The late passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill; the delays in procurement of external loans; the shortfall in expected revenue, as well as the increasing non-discretionary expenditures of government affected the implementation of capital projects in the 2018 budget. Funds for capital expenditure were released to MDAs in batches based on the availability of resources and government priorities.”

Meanwhile, the implementation report also revealed that the sum of ₦143.52b (or 32.48 percent) of the total amount released and cash-backed was utilised by MDAs as at September 30th, 2018 as follows: “A breakdown of the 41 MDAs reported upon by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) indicated different levels of utilisation among the MDAs.

Eight (or 19.51 percent) of the MDAs including: the Presidency; Agriculture; Defence; Foreign Affairs; Power, Works & Housing; Budget & National Planning; ONSA and Public Complaints Commission utilised more than the overall average utilisation rate of 32.48 percent of the amount cash-backed. 

“Only the Public Complaints Commission had 100 percent utilisation of its cash-backed funds, while four out of them, which included the Presidency, Defence, Budget & National Planning, and ONSA had above 50 percent utilisation rate.

It added: “The utilisation report also revealed that 17 MDAs (or 41.46 percent), which included: OSGF, Health, Education, Science & Technology, Water Resources, Interior, Information, Transport, Justice, Finance, Trade & Investment, Mines & Steel utilised below the average utilisation rate of 32.48 percent of their cash-backed funds. 

“On the other hand, 16 MDAs (or 39.02 percent), which included FCTA, Petroleum, Niger Delta, Youth Development, National Salaries & Wages, Environment, Police Service Commission, ICRC, FCSC, Communication Technology, ICPC and Federal Character Commission were yet to make any utilisation,” the report stated.

It also indicated that due to the inability of revenue performance to meet budgetary estimates, the deficit position widened during the third quarter.

According to the Report: “The 2018 Fiscal Framework estimated a quarterly fiscal deficit of ₦488.62b to be financed through earnings from privatisation proceeds of ₦76.50b, foreign borrowing of ₦212.42b, domestic borrowing (FGN Bond) of ₦198.45b and non-oil asset sales of ₦1.25b.

“The revenue and expenditure outturn of the Federal Government resulted in a fiscal deficit of ₦874.33b in the third quarter of 2018. This was ₦385.71b (or 78.94 percent) higher than the projected fiscal deficit of ₦488.62b for the period. It was also higher than the fiscal deficit of ₦509.75b recorded in the second quarter of 2018.

The deficit in the third quarter of 2018 was financed to the tune of ₦330.68b through foreign borrowing of ₦135.68b and domestic borrowing of ₦195.0b. This resulted in a ₦543.65b net deficit financing for the review period.”