Budget: Borrowing a leaf from El Rufai -By Ibraheem Musa

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Budget: Borrowing a leaf from El Rufai

Budget: Borrowing a leaf from El Rufai
By Ibraheem Musa

Individuals, corporations and governments make anticipatory allocation of resources at regular intervals. Budgeting, as it is called, is planning an expenditure profile in anticipation of revenue. Ideally, it should be a rigorous, thorough and fact-based process, where competing demands are weighed against limited resources. However, in government circles, the process is somewhat opaque as budgeting, in recent times, has been reduced to the sharing of the national cake. Most times, political considerations, selfish and extraneous interests, trump better judgement in budgeting.
Since 2016, Malam Nasir Ahmad El Rufai, in three respects , has redefined budget making in Kaduna state. First, he has aligned the fiscal year with the calendar year, by submitting budget proposals on time upon assuming office. Consistently, the capital expenditures have been receiving the lion share of the budget in the last four years. Similarly, the education and health sectors got a huge chunk of the budget estimates, in line with the Kaduna State Restoration Plan.

Significantly, on November 29, 2015, after six months in office, El Rufai had presented a draft of the 2016 budget to a Town Hall meeting. The aim, according to him, is to scrutinise the proposal and accommodate people’s input. In all, the size of the budget was N166 billion, where N104 billion was earmarked for capital expenditure and N62 billion was for recurrent spending. Thereafter, the estimate was passed to the legislature in December and by January, the budget had been signed into law by the governor.
In 2016, after one year in office, El Rufai improved on his record but essentially, the 2017 budget retained the same pro-poor programmes of the preceding fiscal year. On October 12, 2016, he had submitted an appropriation bill, christened ‘’Budget of Jobs, Social Justice and Equity’’, to the House of Assembly. The legislature, two months later, had passed the budget of N214 billion and on December 13, El Rufai had signed it into law, 18 days before the end of year. Specifically, N131.45 billion was for capital expenditure while N83.46 billion was for recurrent spending, representing a 61: 39 spending ratio. In brief, Kaduna state had devoted N44.84 billion on education, N10 billion on the health sector and N24.50 billion on infrastructure.

Similarly, for the second time, the governor had presented the 2018 draft budget, detailing revenue and expenditure, to the House of Assembly on October 13, 2017. The estimate, tagged ‘’Budget of Consolidation’’, was N216.5 billion in size and out of that amount, N131 billion was earmarked for capital expenditure, representing 60.5% of the total budget. Likewise, N85 billion was set aside for recurrent spending, translating into 39.4% of the Appropriation Bill. In addition, Education, Health and Social Development took the largest chunk of 39.2% like previous years. El Rufai, two months later, had signed the budget into law in December.
More or less, this year’s budget followed the same trajectory, structure and composition like the previous ones. In August, 2018, the governor had presented the proposed estimate to the State Assembly. The legislators, for three months, had deliberated on draft budget, tinkered with the figures and slightly increased its size. Afterwards, the House of Assembly passed it on November 28 but El Rufai signed the budget 23 days later. Specifically, he signed it into law on December 21, 2018, ten days before the end of the year. In fact, the N157.449 billion budget comprised N94.47 billion and N62.97 billion capital and recurrent expenditures respectively. Indeed, the budget maintained the 60: 40 capital-to-recurrent expenditure ratio, like preceding ones. Likewise, Education and Health sectors took the lion share of N39.14 billion or 41% of the budget.

Last Saturday, Deputy Governor Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, at General Hassan Katsina House, presented the 2020 draft budget at a Town Hall meeting, where stakeholders made inputs. Specifically, this is the first budget, after the federal government, by any sub national government. In 2020, the sum of N245. 4 billion has been proposed and the estimate, like others before it, placed emphasis on capital expenditure. In effect, N177. 29 billion was devoted to it while the rest N68.11 billion will be spent on recurrent expenditure. In summary, 72.24% will go to the former sub-head and 27.76%, according to the estimate, will be spent on the latter. Likewise, N33. 92 billion and N23.34 billion has been allocated the Education and Health sectors respectively.

Significantly, for four straight years, El Rufai has aligned the fiscal with the calendar years in Kaduna state as the financial year, since he became governor, always began on the first day of January. In addition, he has maintained a healthy 60:40 capital-recurrent expenditure ratio. Above all, the governor has initiated citizens’ participation in budget-making , in line with Open Governance Partnership(OGP). El Rufai, in September 2017, commenced implementing the OGP of the federal government, which is aimed at enhancing transparency, accountability and citizen participation in governance.

Earlier, OGP was launched in eight countries, including Brazil, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, UK and the United States. In Nigeria, the partnership was subscribed to on May 11, 2016, making it the 70th country to join. However, Kaduna state is the first sub-national to subscribe to the OGP because of its willingness to be open and transparent. Specifically, the state subscribed to seven of the 14 commitment areas for implementation. In part, the areas include citizens’ participation in budget circle, open contracting and adopting a common reporting standard, as well as promoting ease of doing business and improving compliance with Freedom of Information Act.

Significantly, for embracing OGP, the Public and Private Development Centre(PPDC) has ranked Kaduna state first in transparency and open governance in Nigeria. The state, according to the centre, came tops for posting its budget and contract information on its website. In the ranking, Ebonyi state came second, while Kano was third on the list. Edo and Enugu states were fourth and fifth respectively. Indeed, this plaudit is not just well deserved but it is an endorsement of El Rufai’s style of governance, which places the people first, catering for their welfare and wellbeing above oiling the machinery of government. Surely, other states need to borrow a leaf from Kaduna state.

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