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YIAGA faults MDAs on 2018 budget preparations

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Babatunde Abiodun 

A survey by a non- governmental organisation, YIAGA has revealed that in preparing the 2018 budget, most of the government ministries, departments and agencies did not apply the principles of good budgeting such as adequacy, equity, transparency and efficient allocation of resources.

Taking an analysis of the N8.612 trillion 2018 appropriation bill from a youth perspective, the YIAGA Centre for Legislative Engagement discovered that the  budget as proposed by most of the agencies like the Federal Ministry of Youths and  Sports Development( FMYSD) are unrealistic given the magnitude of the youth demography and challenges youth face in Nigeria.

The Executive Director of YIAGA,  Mr. Samson Itodo,  while briefing the press on findings of body on Tuesday in Abuja, said quality of budgetary allocations is worrisome as bulk of the budgets in some agencies are allocated to overheads at the detriment of human capital development needed for a dominantly youth population like Nigeria.

Zeroing in on Ministry of Youths and Sports, YIAGA said the budget is very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform stressing that five percent (5%) of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure covering programmes and infrastructure, while 95% of FMYSD budget will be spent on recurrent expenditure.

It added that most of the expenditure lines are administrative in nature. “In other words, priority is placed on procurement of items such as vehicles, computers, furniture fittings, repairs of offices etc. In the proposed budget, the ministry introduced too many new projects, which are underfunded and this may lead to incomplete projects thus adding to the growing number of abandoned projects. Details of budget line were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility.

“For instance, budget items in the FMYSD – HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation budget for sporting activities within the recurrent budget were not clearly stated. Both agencies could end up expending public resources for same activities if the type, location and beneficiaries are not clearly stated.

Parts of the specific observations were that priority needs of young people in Nigeria include but not limited to gainful employment, Education, political participation and representation and Sexual Reproductive Health Services.

The body argued that being gainfully employed is not only based on availability of jobs but also employability of young persons

Talking on the quality of budgetary allocations, he said SMEDAN intends to provide tricycles and buses to empower youth which is a very unsustainable strategy for youth empowerment, rather, he said the model should be better designed to create a transportation business that does not revolve around individuals rather a transport fleet that is well managed by a cooperative to ensure proper maintenance and continuity.

“Allocations within the Education sector are focused on infrastructural development, teacher training and curriculum development. There is no gainsaying that the need for our educational system to provide the right training at the right time is crucial to the employability of our youth. Training could be informal – vocational, skills building, entrepreneurship or formal training offered within the formal institutions. There is a huge challenge engaging youths who are unable to get into the higher institutions due to the inability of the country’s institutions to absorb them.

“Generally, the allocations in the budget focus hugely on constructions-building structures like class rooms, hostel etc, but did not give high priority by allocation adequate funds to the soft skills such as Information, Communication Technology which is the gateway to 21st century development and comparative advantage for Nigerian youths.
6. The N-Power programmes integrated into the budget are difficult to isolate. Thus the 500,000 jobs annually attributed to N-Power cannot be tracked from within the sector budgets

Speaking on duplication of roles by government agencies, he said the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEDAN), FMYSD all have allocations for skills acquisition, empowerment, training, construction of skills acquisition centre etc which are similar in nature.

YIAGA therefore recommended that the MDAs adjusts the pattern of allocation to the 70:30 percent rule for Recurrent and Capital budget respectively, reflecting the policy on public finance management which the Federal Government has adjusted to.

It advocated that new projects within agencies should be reduced to a manageable number that will allow for optimal funding of project and possible completion within the medium term, depending on the size of the project.

In addition, it said projects on entrepreneurship; vocational skills should be adequately funded or left to specific ministries with direct functions such as NDE.

“There is need to harmonize youth programmes to ensure synergies and reduce duplications – a guideline on responsibility and budget priority for youth within federal agencies should be produced by the FMYSD

“.To avoids duplications of activities across sector, details on type, location, number and target audience should be provided in the budget. This will ensure a more transparent and efficient allocation of resources”, he said.

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