Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), on the 2016 Kano State Appropriation Bill
We would like to thank this honourable House for being truly representative of the people by holding yet another Public Hearing to get input from the citizens on the budget. While commending the house on this, it will be good if, henceforth, the Assembly should advise the Executive arm to be submitting along the Appropriation Bill, a citizen version that can be made available both as print and online so that citizens could study the budget and make informed inputs to this Honourable House. The lack of Citizens budget has been one of the factors for the low rating of Kano state in the Open Budget Index.
As an NGO that has been working on the Kano State budget in an effort to enlighten the citizens on the need to participate in the budget process as it is central to the deepening of democracy, the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has studied the 2016 Budget speech and come up with the following inputs:
- General Comments on the Budget: at N274, 824,600,378, this is about N64bllion bigger than last year’s budget. Given the crush in oil revenue, it is obvious an ambitious budget. We hope that government is aware of the danger of creating high expectation that a poor budget performance can fail to deliver. We note in particular that about a quarter of the revenue for the implementation of the budget (N60 billion) is to come from IGR while capital receipts will provide N117, 414,068,309. The estimate for federal accounts at N97, 410,532,069 is appears realistic. The IGR however will require more than systems and discipline to achieve. It will have to look for all the taxable sources and efficient collection. We have no doubt that the government is aware of this and in fact has set up the necessary machinery to do so. However, it is most known that commerce in Kano is dominated by small scale players who can easily be destabilized by tax burden. In determining the threshold for taxation, government must be aware of this and must engage in consultations with all stakeholders to and the appropriate regime of taxation that will not place a budget on the poor but cannot be able to general the level of revenue that the state hopes to raise. In all we think that the budget size is too ambitious and can benefit from a reduction.
- The budget makes a favourable provision for capital expenditure, constituting about 69.7% of the budget. This is commendable. We hope that government will put in place, machinery to ensure that there is no leakage in the capital expenditure side of the budget because corruption has always been the major factor that undermines the delivery of and promises of capital budget in the country.
- Education: We have looked at the budget for education. In the last couple of years Kano State, especially within the context of Northern Nigeria has done remarkably well in the sector. However, it is still to catch up with states in the south. Also it has not achieved the minimum of all the MDG targets in the education sector. This means that a lot still remain to be done. Given this, we would like to call for a review of the allocation to education from the current level of only 8.605% to the minimum of 26% as recommended by UNESCO. This enhanced allocation should go in expanding infrastructure at both primary and secondary schools levels, and consolidating the feeding program. In our work at Sumaila, Garun Mallam and Dawakin Tofa, we have monitored pupils’ attendance in primary and secondary schools in the last three months and found that each time there was interruption in the schools feeding there is a drop in school attendance. For example, in Tukuda Primary School in Sumaila LG, a class that has 57 students on register, attendance during feeding period was on average of 30 but when feeding was interrupted in week 3, it dropped to 19 and then rose to 30 again in week 5 when feeding resumed. Also there should be recruitment of more qualified teachers at both primary and secondary school level. The provision laboratory equipment and computers in schools should be given priority. Kano State needs to make a statement by declaring itself ready for the full implementation of the new curriculum in schools which makes computer studies compulsory by ensuring that it has adequate ICT facilities in all its schools. We cannot hope to make progress and indeed catch up in this information era when our children lag behind in the use of tools that enhance learning. We also call on the government to provide needed facilities for the People with Special Needs in the primary and secondary schools, so that our education system can be all inclusive.
With respect to the provision of computers in school, we note that this has so far concentrated in schools in Kano Metropolitan areas. Some of the schools have what can be considered as excess while majority of the schools have nothing. There is need to look at this. Also in some schools these facilities are lying idle, underutilized or even unutilized. The House Committee on Education will need to interface with the Ministry of Education to address these problems.
- Health: like education, the allocation to health (at N13.7billion, 4.98%) falls short of the World Health Organization recommendation of 15% of the budget. Kano State has one of the high rates of both maternal and infant mortality. It also has high ration of patients to medical staff. We note the provision for the completion of pediatric hospital at zoo road and completion of the Giginyu General Hospital. When these are completed and adequately staffed, they will contribute in reducing the congestion and the high patients to medical staff ratios. We would like to advise that the budget should incorporate provisions for the reactivation and revitalization of Community health committees which should be charged with the supervision, management and general upkeep of local health facilities, this way government will find that there is an effective supervision of healthcare facilities that the Ministry cannot provide. By partnering with the communities, government can reduce overhaul cost and make it easier for communities to also support the government. We recommend the upgrade of the allocation generally to the WHO level.
- Agriculture: while Kano is associated with commerce, a large percentage of Kano State population is engaged in farming, often at subsistence level. The State has arable and fertile land that can make it a food basket in the country. Given the need to diversify the economy nationally, the State government should take queue from that and also revitalize its agricultural sector to not only provide for food security but also become a source of both jobs and wealth for the state in particular and the country in general. We note that current allocation to the sector which is N7.5billion (2.73%) falls short of the Maputo Declaration which commits states to providing 10% of their budgets to agriculture. We feel that the strategies of the government need to be reviewed and there should be internal re-assignation of costs to ensure that agriculture is revitalized and become a source of both wealth and food for the state and its citizens. To this end, government needs to focus not only on supporting the production activities, but also processing and marketing of the produce. This way government will help in adding value to agricultural products that wealth can come from agriculture. Right now much of the produce of farmers is wasted due to lack of processing facilities and relevant storage facilities.
- Infrastructure Development, many new projects are proposed. We are happy that the Governor wants to celebrate the infrastructural development of the state. However, we caution that there is need to complete existing ongoing infrastructural projects before embarking on new ones so that we do not end up with many abandoned projects which have been the bane of infrastructure development in the country. Countries that have developed the world have done that through the progressively adding up and grading existing infrastructure. Sustained growth and upgrade of infrastructure does not come from a history of new burst of projects each year. There are many items in the infrastructure section that are not clear. A number of road constructions listed as completed are actually not completed. A number of projects appeared to be regular list that appear in every budget for the last couple of years. There is a need for the Assembly to have a proper audit of the various constructions ongoing in the state and evaluate them in the light of the current budget proposal.
- Youth, Insecurity and Unemployment: While we think that there is need to improve access to justice by bringing courts close to the people, thus understand and in fact applaud the decision to build more courts, we nevertheless, note that this did not respond to the very reason why the government made the proposal. The Governor in the budget speech says the Government is committed to building the courts “mindful of the security challenges facing the state and the country at large”. We believe that the budget does not give due consideration to security challenges in the state and the country in general. It is our view there that some concrete proposals have to be provided in the budget. This can be done by looking at the drivers of insecurity in the state. Kano State has today one of the highest rates of youth unemployment, in fact in absolute number of unemployed, Kano State is number one. Kano State is also reported to be top on the table of drug addiction. Both unemployment and drug addiction (which are in related) are the major sources of insecurity. Government should therefore do more in the area of youth empowerment and rehabilitation. To this end, we suggest that the budget for the ministry of information, etc., and especially the allocation due to Youth Development Directorate and Kano State Sports Council should be raised up. This however should be done with clear strategies of providing youth with business development services and support for them to set up their businesses, we also believe this should not be focused on the traditional business models such as providing poultry kits or other such similar things. It has to be in the new business sectors that produce services and goods where the market is there and sustainable for new entrants. While making the case for Kano State Sports Council, we add that the Council should not just see sports as participation in only national and foreign competitions but must generate enthusiasm for youth to engage in neighborhood sports. This will not only serve as recreation and for the healthy development of the body but also take away youth from drugs and other social vices. To this end, the Council should consider developing neighborhood sporting facilities in strategic places with its enhanced budget allocation. There is also the need to build more reformatory institutes and embark on campaign against drug abuse to rehabilitate youth on drug and make their lives more meaningful.
In addition, we suggest that fighting crime and insecurity must leverage technology. The state is advised to provide CCTV Cameras in some strategic locations to help improve security. This is not captured in the budget but the Assembly can work with the relevant agencies of the executive to find ways to do so.
- Women Affairs: Women constitutes about 50% of the population in the state but they constitute more than 70% of the absolutely poor. They are economically and educationally the most disempowered. Because of these they are also excluded from most decision making processes in the society. Responding to the enormous challenges that women face In the society would require government making huge investment in women empowerment. The proposed allocation of N937million is inadequate to meet these challenges.
- Leventis Foundation: Mr Speaker Sir, and Hon Members we would like you to seek for clarification because reactivation of Leventis Foundation appeared twice in the budget. It is under agriculture as well under Women Development. While it is a laudable scheme, you need to make sure that there is no duplication.
- Public Procurement Law: We like to end by drawing your attention to the concluding remarks of the Governor to this honourable House. He said “Along this line, the Government is in the process of promulgating Public Procurement Act that will ensure transparency, accountability and value for money in the running of our administration”. We welcome this commitment. We urge the House to place this immediately in its legislative calendar. We pledge to support the House with analysis and technical support on the Bill and we also like to call on the Governor to consider sending the Bill to this effect in the next few days