By OKECHUKWU OBETA, AWKA
The immediate past Secretary to the Anambra State government (SSG), Mr. Oseloka Obaze, a policy and governance expert has decried the decision of the Federal government to allow the 2017 budget to run to June 2018. He said such policy decision made nonsense of the established budgetary cycle, created dissonance, and room for fiscal abuses.
Obaze, a former United Nation’s diplomat and currently one of the frontline aspirants in the upcoming Anambra State governorship election on 18 November 2017, spoke on Wednesday at a public policy forum organized by the Department of Economics at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Anambra state.
He also bemoaned the cost of governance at all levels in the country stating that unless urgent steps were taken to reverse the situation development of basic infrastructure and other critical social facilities needed by the populace would never be achieved.
According to Obaze, “Good public policies are society-centered and centered on public interest, public participation, adaptive leadership. Such policies are aimed at resolving complex problems, ensuring absence of dichotomy and effectively managing cost of governance.
“Efficient public policy must reflect priority, be properly formulated, and funded, faithfully implemented and consistently evaluated, through measurable benchmarks, feedback and auditing.
“Managing the cost of governance is important. There is room for shared responsibilities and complementarities, but this must be balanced with separation of responsibilities as it relates to constitutional provisions and exclusive lists-federal, state local government.
“Managing fiscal policies require intrusive focus and above all, measurable benchmarks. There must be clarity about how government raise, spend and manage public resources, including assets and liabilities, borrowing, investments procurement and disposal or sale of public assets.
“You can’t spend what is not appropriated. After appropriation there must be AIE –authority to incur expenses. Corporate governance must include transparency; we must remember that accountability is answerability.
“COG (Cost of Governance) remains exceedingly high. Besides policy incoherence, Nigeria still maintains a very huge public service at the federal, state and local government levels.
“Cost of administering the legislative branch is mind-boggling. I heard a governor admit that “there is no recession in the government house” that is applicable to all government houses.
“ERGP – is welcome, but still a potpourri of past unfulfilled visions. It is said the repetition aids memory, but repetition of bad practices leads to a recycling of failure and perhaps disaster.
“The 2016 2.3trn deficit laden budget ran to June 2017; The 2017 2.2trn deficit laden budget was only signed in June 2017 and is expected to run until June 2018.
“The decision to allow the 2017 budget to run to June 2018 makes nonsense of the established budgetary cycle. Such truncation of federal budgetary cycle creates dissonance and room for fiscal abuses. Such overlap is dangerous, as it will encourage double-dipping, duplication, self-administration and limited oversight.
“Diaspora bond of 300USD – is good idea, but where there is no confidence, there is capital flight including indigenous capital, which explains why Nigerians take their wealth abroad.
“It’s intriguing that the FGN did not leverage on the over $22 billion in domiciliary accounts to stabilize the mercurial forex market and ward off recession.”