By; UTEBOR PETER, Asaba
A civil society organisation,
Policy Alert, working to promote fiscal and ecological justice in the Niger Delta, yesterday, raised alarm over alleged extra-budgetary spending by the government of Delta State, amounting to N126bn within the three quarters of 2023.
This was disclosed In a statement signed and forwarded to newsmen by its Programme Officer, Fiscal Reforms and Anti-Corruption, Faith Paulinus.
According to the statement, “the organisation observed that between January and September 2023, Government House and Protocol, 25 other Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) have engaged in extra-budgetary expending, amounting to N126bn.
“The red flags, according to Policy Alert, were spotted during a review of the Delta State Third Quarter Budget Performance Report 2023.
“Some of the spending had exceeded 200 percent of what was budgeted.
“Government House and Protocol had a budget of N22.38bn, but between January and September 2023 and with a full quarter left to the end of the fiscal year, the office has already spent N46.67bn which is 208.6 per cent of what was budgeted.” The group observed.
Policy Alert also listed the MDAs allegedly caught in the web of extra-budgetary spending to include Delta State Liaison Officer Abuja, Delta State Liaison Office Lagos, Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant General, Delta State Council for Arts and Culture, Delta State Water Regulatory Commission, Ministry of Urban Renewal, Judicial Service Commission, and Ministry of Justice.
Others are Ministry of Secondary Education, Delta State University of Science and Technology Ozoro, Delta State Polytechnic Oghara, University of Delta Agbor, State Library Board, Ministry of Health, Traditional Medicine Board, School of Nursing Warri, Delta State Primary Health Care Development Agency, State School of Health Technology Ughelli, Contributory Health Commission, Delta State Environmental Protection Agency, Secretariat of Traditional Council, Delta State Broadcast Service, Special Projects (Political Appointees) and Tractor Hire Agency.
While noting that extra-budgetary spending is a violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Law of Delta State, Policy Alert called on the State House of Assembly to immediately investigate the breach of the law and take necessary action to hold the executive accountable.
The organisation also called attention to the unwholesome trend of supplementary budgeting in the state: “We are aware that the House of Assembly recently approved a second 2023 supplementary budget ofN167bn in addition to an earlier N71bn 2023 supplementary budget signed into law in the last days of the previous administration. This indicates poor fiscal discipline and could turn the state’s budget into a mere ritual rather than a tool for planning and accountability.”
The organization however applauded the Government of Delta State for prioritizing capital expenditure over recurrent spending in the last three quarters. “We have observed Delta State as the only State that has prioritized capital expenditure over recurrent among States that have published their Third Quarter Budget Performance Report.
“The report shows that within the three quarters, recurrent expenditure had N261.33bn while capital had N274.45bn. In the third quarter alone, recurrent expenditure had N54.69bn in releases while capital spending had N79.35bn. This is commendable.”