By; YUSUF I. GOJE
The current uncertainty surrounding the 2024 budget formulation and appropriation process is causing disquiet among interested stakeholders. By the budget calendar in the draft Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF, 2024-2026) made public by the Planning and Budget Commission, Kaduna, the process is lagging behind.
The budget calendar shows that by the 20th of September, the first draft budget should have been presented to the Governor, Senator Uba Sani, for perusal, observations and comments. This should be followed by effecting corrections/amendments by Planning & Budget Commission Vide the Governor’s observations between the 22nd-26th of the same month.
While the town-hall meeting on the 2024 draft budget was scheduled to have taken place on the 15th of October. Afterwards, on the 18th of the same month the Council deliberation on 2024 Draft Budget was supposed to take place. While, the presentation of the draft budget to House of Assembly by the Governor was slated for the 25th.
In Kaduna State, previous years’ budget proposals had been presented earlier than now to the State Assembly. Newspaper reports show that budget proposals from 2017 to 2023 fiscal year had been presented by the Governor to the State House of Assembly by October. In fact, in 2018, the presentation was done by August. It is therefore disturbing that this trend has been altered with the delay in the budgeting process, especially that it is a government of continuity.
The implication is that the State Assembly is constrained to within a short time consult with non-State actors through appropriation public hearing, invite Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for their budget defense and scrutinize the details of the proposal, pass it and forward to the Governor for assent into law. Barely forty days to the end of the year, it is not clear where the process is, as at the last informal inquiry it was said the draft is still with the Governor.
The Governor really needs to accelerate the process to catch up with many of his colleagues who have already presented their budget proposals to the State Houses of Assembly. Some of the State Governors to have done this are that of Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Anambra, Osun, Plateau, Ekiti, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Adamawa, Yobe, among other States. If most of these States have reached advanced stages in the 2024 budget process, why not Kaduna?
Outside the constitution, the budget is the most important document that affects every sphere of the State. Therefore, it deserves to be given top priority in terms of timelines in its formulation, appropriation, execution and evaluation. Uncertainty in the process has the potential to distort development as well as discourage Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and drawdowns from creditors due to delay in providing counterpart funding.
The Governor from statements by his media aides has been doing a lot to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). This is very commendable. However, it is imperative that similar commitment and drive is invested into ensuring that the 2024 budget formulation and appropriation process is not only accelerated but is realistic and reflects the prioritized needs of the majority of residents of the State.
In closing, it is important that regular updates are publicly provided by the media team of the government on the 2024 budget process. Leaving stakeholders to speculate on such an important process is counterproductive. If there are germane reasons why the process is lagging, the residents of the State need to be kept abreast. This will go a long way in improving the quality of stakeholders buy-in, ownership and support for the government.
Lets engage, ask the right questions and hold the government accountable.
Y.I.Goje is an Active Citizen