PRESS STATEMENT ON THE REVIEW OF THE 2018 APPROPRIATION BILL FROM A YOUTH PERSPECTIVE

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Introduction

In line with constitutional stipulations and governance practice, President Muhammadu Buhari submitted a budget proposal of N8.612 trillion to the National Assembly on November 7, 2017 as 2018 Appropriation bill. The budget tagged Budget of Consolidation is expected to consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets and strengthen the administration’s Economic Growth and Recovery plan (EGRP). The budget is one of the most important instruments of governance because it provides guidance on how government intends to spend public funds to meet the needs of citizens. It is therefore inherent on citizens to participate in budget process to ensure transparency, equity and accountability in the allocation public resources.

The YIAGA Centre for Legislative Engagement undertook an analysis of the 2018 Appropriation bill from a youth perspective. The objective of the review was to ascertain the following;

  1. The Federal government’s priority for youth development based on the budget proposal
  2. The responsiveness of the 2018 budget to the needs and priorities of young people
  3. General Observations and Gaps in the ministry’s budget and
  4. Recommendations for a youth responsive budgeting

 

The approach adopted is mainly a desk review of key social and economic sectors with relatively high responsibilities for youth development in the proposed 2018 Federal Government budget and a review of policies and macroeconomic plans for youth development in Nigeria. The following sector were reviewed in the analysis Agriculture, Education, Health, Industry Trade and Investment, the National Directorate of Employment, the Social Investment Program and the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development.

Findings and Observations

The review of sectoral budgets especially Federal Ministry of Youth and Sport Development budget indicates that most of the agencies did not apply the principles of good budgeting like adequacy, equity, transparency and efficient allocation of resources. The budget as proposed by most of the agencies like the FMYSD are unrealistic given the magnitude of the youth demography and challenges youth face in Nigeria.

 

General observation on the FMYSD budget

Generally, it is observed that the FMYSD budget is very lean when compared to the role it is expected to perform. Five percent (5%) of the budget was earmarked for capital expenditure covering programmes and infrastructure, while 95% of FMYSD budget will be spent on recurrent expenditure. Most of the expenditure lines are administrative in nature. In other words, priority is placed on procurement of items such as vehicles, computers, furniture fittings, repairs of offices etc. In the proposed budget, the ministry introduced too many new projects, which are underfunded and this may lead to incomplete projects thus adding to the growing number of abandoned projects. Details of budget line were not explicit to ensure transparency and fiscal responsibility. For instance, budget items in the FMYSD – HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation budget for sporting activities within the recurrent budget were not clearly stated. Both agencies could end up expending public resources for same activities if the type, location and beneficiaries are not clearly stated.

Specific observations

  1. The priority needs of young people in Nigeria include but not limited to gainful employment, Education, political participation and representation and Sexual Reproductive Health Services. Being gainfully employed is not only based on availability of jobs but also employability of young persons. The ERGP states that 3.5 million jobs will be created annually while the N- power programme will employ 500,000 graduates annually.Based on the scope of this analysis, the allocations within the various sectors targeted at youth training, skills building, entrepreneurship or empowerment are very insignificant in contributing to the realisation of 500,000 jobs.
  2. The quality of budgetary allocations is also worrisome for instance SMEDAN intends to provide tricycles and buses to empower youths. Handing tricycles to individuals is a very unsustainable strategy for youth empowerment. The model should be better designed to create a transportation business that does not revolve around individuals rather a transport fleet that is well managed by a cooperative to ensure proper maintenance and continuity.
  3. Poor access to information on/and access to reproductive health services for urban and rural youth has led to devastating impact on HIV prevalence, drug addiction, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions including rape among youth. It is tragic to find that there are no targeted programmes to address these needs among youth within the health sector.
  4. Allocations within the Education sector are focused on infrastructural development, teacher training and curriculum development. There is no gainsaying that the need for our educational system to provide the right training at the right time is crucial to the employability of our youth. Training could be informal – vocational, skills building, entrepreneurship or formal training offered within the formal institutions. There is a huge challenge engaging youths who are unable to get into the higher institutions due to the inability of the country’s institutions to absorb them.
  5. Generally, the allocations in the budget focus hugely on constructions-building structures like class rooms, hostel etc, but did not give high priority by allocation adequate funds to the soft skills such as Information, Communication Technology which is the gateway to 21st century development and comparative advantage for Nigerian youths.
  6. The N-Power programmes integrated into the budget are difficult to isolate. Thus the 500,000 jobs annually attributed to N-Power cannot be tracked from within the sector budgets
  7. National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEDAN), FMYSD all have allocations for skills acquisition, empowerment, training, construction of skills acquisition centre etc which are similar in nature. Too many actors in the same field may lead to duplication, waste and promotes corruptible practices.
  8. Allocations to youth programmes should be strictly for young persons. Lumping budgets for youth with women was seen across most of the sectors. Although both are vulnerable groups their needs are surely different.

Recommendations

  1. It is therefore recommended that the MDAs adjusts the pattern of allocation to the 70:30 percent rule for Recurrent and Capital budget respectively, reflecting the policy on public finance management which the Federal Government has adjusted to.
  2. New projects within agencies should be reduced to a manageable number that will allow for optimal funding of project and possible completion within the medium term, depending on the size of the project.
  3. Projects on entrepreneurship, vocational skills should be adequately funded or left to specific ministries with direct functions such as NDE. There is need to harmonize youth programmes to ensure synergies and reduce duplications – a guideline on responsibility and budget priority for youth within federal agencies should be produced by the FMYSD.To avoid duplications of activities across sector, details on type, location, number and target audience should be provided in the budget. This will ensure a more transparent and efficient allocation of resources.
  4. To avoid duplications, budgets for Sporting Activities in FMYSD-HQ and the Nigeria Football Federation should provide details on type, location and target audience. This will ensure a more transparent and efficient allocation of resources.
  5. Youth training on Leadership is very important. The Citizens and Leadership Centre’s budget should be increased to provide at least 6 zonal leadership programmes yearly. The agency should also reflect it revenue generating capacity within its budget.
  6. Public private partnerships for the provision of entrepreneurship and sporting activities through the relevant agencies should be encouraged and such budgets captured within public funding to ensure accountability
  7. The MDA’s should budget separately for youth activities from that of women and children. Since this is an area of intervention that needs strategic approach, it is important that allocations are separated; this will also enable tracking of funds and oversight of budget.

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director

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