Rights group decries absence of budget implementation report since 2104
CENTRE for Social Justice (CSJ), a civil society group, has raised the alarm over the absence of Budget Implementation Report since the second half of 2014, which is due every quarter by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF).
Besides, the group noted that the violation has extended to the end of year report for the 2014 financial year, which has been due since June 2015, but not prepared and published.
The group, which described the development as evidence of a failure, neglect and refusal to perform a statutory duty to the detriment of Nigerian citizens, however threatened constitutional action after a two-week notice that ends today.
The Lead Director of CSJ, Eze Onyekpere said the rights of law abiding Nigerians to fiscal information has been violated and this is not a situation that should be allowed to continue by the new administration. “Considering that the Budget Office of the Federation is maintained at the tax payers’ expense, the Director-General and other officers in the Office have no alternative but to do the bidding of tax payers, which is to perform their statutory duty,” he said.
Citing the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA), he noted that section 30 of the Act was reinforced by section 50, which places a duty on the Budget Office of the Federation as follows: “The Federal Government through its Budget Office shall within 30 days after the end of each quarter, publish a summarized report on budget execution in such form as may be prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and not later than six months after the end of the financial year, a consolidated budget execution report, showing implementation against physical and financial performance targets shall be published by the Minister of Finance for submission to the National Assembly and dissemination to the public.”
Noting that the Act was introduced to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the management of public resources, as well as evidence based budget decision making, leading to improvements in the livelihoods of Nigerians, he lamented that it has been violated wholly with impunity.
The group also faulted the delay in the appointment of ministers, saying that it has its economic consequences.
Onyekpere, in a statement to The Guardian, said that while Nigerians acknowledge the need to put rules of conduct and good governance in place, the President does not need to reinvent the will but to enforce his political will, which has been lacking in previous administrations. “Even if the President is to wait until September 2015, it is imperative that some critical sectors get Ministers immediately.
As at now, there is no economic policy directive to guide citizens and investors and the economy seems to have stagnated. “The naira is fast losing value by the day, while quoted stocks have lost a good part of their value.
Investment decisions are delayed and the last budget implementation report that was published was for the second quarter of 2014. No one seems to know or the public has not been briefed on the implementation of the 2015 budget. “Again, no one seems to be in charge of the preparation process of the 2016-2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the 2016 budget.
We do not see the Permanent Secretaries in the appropriate Ministries managing the processes that would resolve these afore-stated challenges. Hence the need for Ministers in the Finance and Economy portfolios to steer the economic ship of state and move it away from running aground,” he added.