The Federal Government has in the last two years increased the capital allocation to five key ministries by 75 per cent, an analysis of the 2018 budget provisions before the National Assembly has shown.
The combined provision for the execution of capital projects in the ministries of Power, Works and Housing; Transportation; Agriculture and Rural Development; Water Resources; and Industry, Trade and Investment in 2016 stood at N639.67bn.
However, allocations to the five key ministries in the proposed 2018 budget stand at N1.12tn.
This means that within a period of two years, the allocation to the five key ministries increased by N481bn or 75.27 per cent.
The 2016 budget provided the base because it was the first full budget drafted and implemented by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Although the current administration took over power on May 29, 2015, it inherited a budget prepared by the previous administration led by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing received N422.97bn in 2016. This increased to N555.88bn in 2018.
The Ministry of Transportation received N188.67bn in 2016 and N263.1bn in 2018. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development received N46.17bn in 2016 and N118.98bn in 2018.
The Ministry of Water Resources received N46.06bn in 2016 and N95bn in 2018. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, on the other hand, received N5.8bn in 2016 and N82.9bn in 2018.
In nominal terms, the increase reflects the concern of the government for infrastructure deficiency in the country.
Since inflation has also been on the downward trend in recent months, it can also be asserted that in real terms, the increases are a reflection of the government’s plan to build up infrastructure.
However, the expectation that expenditure on infrastructure will increase year-on-year is dashed when the capital provision for the 2017 budget is brought to the fore.
In 2017, the capital budget allocation to the infrastructure-bearing ministries stood at N1.03tn. This shows an increase of only 8.74 per cent.
A former President of the Nigerian Economic Society and currently Executive Director, African Centre for Shared Development Capacity Building, Prof. Olu Ajakaiye, is not disappointed at the minimal increase.
According to him, the 2017 budget was passed too late to be fully implemented; so, the 2018 budget should be a rollover of the current year’s, urging the National Assembly to pass the appropriation bill expeditiously to enable full implementation.
Meanwhile, the Coordinator, Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, has said the 2018 provision for agriculture is below agreed terms.
He stated that the N118.9bn allocated to agriculture in the 2018 Appropriation Bill was far below what Nigeria and other African countries agreed and signed in the Maputo Agreement of 2013.
According to him, the Federal Government has never at any time been able to meet up with what it signed in the agreement with respect to funding agriculture in Nigeria.
Ijewere told one of our correspondents that it was agreed that member countries must allocate 10 per cent of their total budgets to agriculture in order to ensure adequate development of the sector.
This, he said, had not been met by the Federal Government despite the increase in allocation to agriculture in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
Ijewere said, “It is true that the budget for agriculture was increased from N75bn in 2017 to N118.9bn in 2018, but under the Maputo Agreement, which Nigeria signed, every African country undertook and made a promise that the minimum budgetary allocation to agriculture would be 10 per cent of the entire budget for that specific period. Nigeria has never got there.
“In the 2017 budget, it was only 1.6 per cent. The N118.9bn that we have now in the 2018 budget of over N8tn is still a very far cry from what Nigeria appended its signature to, which is the Maputo Agreement that specifies 10 per cent of the total budget.”
He added, “Nigeria has said repeatedly that agriculture is the way to go and the vast majority of about 50 to 60 per cent of all the work that Nigerians do is in the agricultural industry. But the poorest of our people are in the agricultural industry.
“It is also important to note that despite all the claims by government that it wants to create jobs, it allocated such a little amount to agriculture without considering the Maputo Agreement.”
Ijewere noted that the increase was not impressive as more efforts were needed to diversify the economy, particularly through agriculture. Punch