By Adam Alqali
President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to leverage on the non-oil sectors of agriculture and solid minerals in order to actualize the objectives of the 2016 budget tagged “Budget of Change” as presented to the joint session of the National Assembly last December.
This call was made by Mr YZ Yau, a leading Nigerian civic activist and executive director of the Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, at a one-day policy dialogue on public finance
management organized by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, in Kano on Thursday.
The policy dialogue, organized with the support of the Australian Government was attended by civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, government representatives and members of the press.
Mr Yau, who delivered a paper titled: “Treasury Single Account, Zero Budget and Sectorial Analysis of the 2016 Proposed Budget: A SWOT Analysis,” said as the price of oil continued to fall in the global market and the future appeared to be even more uncertain, the Buhari administration must, to a large extent, leverage on the non-oil sector to be able to effectively finance the 2016 budget.
“The non-oil sector is to provide twice the revenue expected from the oil sector, which is the first time that is happening in Nigeria’s history, and for the first-time in many years, the capital share of the budget is around 30%, which gives us some hope that the budget might possibly have positive impact on the lives of the citizens,” said Mr Yau
He added that the Buhari administration which came into power amidst high expectations from Nigerians and at a time when oil prices have crashed, with little money available to the government, must come up with mechanisms to ensure prudent utilization of resources towards effective implementation of the 2016 budget.
Ya’u, who said Buhari’s zero system of budgeting, was about fiscal discipline in terms of spending as well as about ensuring revenue-making agencies appropriately remit revenues to the government, decried the fact that although there was huge increase in capital expenditure, the allocations to social services sectors of health and education have declined.
Also speaking at the event, Abdulakadir Abdulsalam, the representative of the chairman of Kano State Board of Internal Revenue, KBIR, at the policy dialogue said Kano state’s 2016 budget would heavily rely on internally generated revenue, IGR, adding that for budgets to be successful they must to be properly planned and must also explain how the revenue aspects of the recurrent and capital expenditures would be financed.
He stated that whereas the recently introduced Treasury Single Account, TSA, would help in blocking leakages of the government’s revenue as well as aid the Buhari administration’s anti-graft war, the government needed to also look into the issue of compliance by ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs, as well as the negative effects the initiative could have on social services sectors like health.
While speaking on the role of the civil society in promoting economic justice in Nigeria, Kolawale Banwo, a senior program officer at CISLAC said civil society organizations, CSOs, must be involved in the
formulation of laws adding that citizens have the right to know how ministries, departments and agencies, are spending their monies and also the right to be given the opportunity to complain about the government’s policies including taxes.
“CSOs should demand openness, transparency and accountability in governance, they should educate citizens on their rights and obligations; they should carry out research on public finance management so as to arm themselves with the requisite knowledge to be able to effectively engage with the government. CSOs have a responsibility to ensure the government’s polices benefits all,” said Banwo
Participants at the one-day policy dialogue believe the ability of the Buhari administration to look beyond oil will definitely see to the successful financing of the budget for the 2016 fiscal year.