By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED), has decried the percentage allocated to the health sector by the Kaduna State Government in its 2024 draft budget.
This was expressed in a communique jointly signed by its
Programme Officer, Governance & Advocacy, Seth Luke and Head of Leadership, Governance and Advocacy, Yusuf Ishaku Goje, made available to our correspondent at the weekend in Kaduna.
“The reality of deficits in the health systems prompted the African Heads of State and Governments to promise to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector in what is now known as the ‘Abuja Declaration’ in April 2001.
“The last administration adhered to this commitment, we therefore, call on this administration to sustain the Abuja Declaration by ensuring at least 15% of annual spending is allocated to the health sector. This is because according to the draft budget made public by the Planning and Budget Commission a day before, the sector got about 13%, even though the speech by the Honorable Commissioner mentioned 15%,” CALPED said.
The group said that the Inflation rate in the fiscal assumptions is unrealistic and does not speak to the current realities, the inflation rate is projected at 23.6% for 2024 as against the 27.33% published on the NBS website, thus planning for development should be based on realistics data.
“The projected economic growth rate is overambitious looking at the economic instability occasioned by different factors such as insecurity. It is important to note that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently downgraded Nigeria’s economic growth forecast for the year 2023 to 2.9%. This should be reconsidered and reviewed to ensure it is more realistic.
“The 2024 total draft budget is N35.3 billion (8.35%) higher than the MTEF recommended budget size. This means that the Government would have to borrow more to finance the deficit or shortfall. Debt servicing has continued to impact negatively on critical infrastructure and service delivery as money allocated for debt servicing annually is gradually competing with capital expenditure. This trend should be checked by both the Executive and the Legislature,” the communique said.
It noted that the 2024 draft budget increased by N81 billion (21.7%) from the 2023 budget.
” It is good for the government to spend more on its citizens. However, there is a need for clear and effective strategies to enhance revenue generation using the appropriate fiscal policy instrument that would enhance the revenue generation systems and processes. This should focus more on expanding the revenue sources not increasing tax rates.
“The State government should accelerate the review and approval of the Sector Implementation Plan (SIP) to ensure adherence to policy-budget linkage and result-based monitoring & evaluation. Ideally, the sector’s budget should be drawn from their various SIPs.
“The approved MTEF (2024-2026) macroeconomic framework recommended exchange rate of N750 should be adhered to, as appears to be more realistic considering the risks factors identified,” CALPED advised.
The communique explained that, “Key overhead cost (some of which we have identified amounting to N7.7 billion) should be reviewed and considered for reallocation to strategic priorities.
“The viability of the proposed loan from Afri. Exim Bank should be reconsidered to ensure guarantee for accessing the loan. If not it should be dropped and a supplementary budget initiated when the loan is 100% guaranteed.
“A percentage of the allocation for social investment programmes should be allocated to the take-off of the Social Security Administration to ensure better coordination mechanism and value-for-money.
“The Equity Funds Basic Health Care Provision Funds (BHCPF) Counterpart Funds should be released adequately and timely to ensure more vulnerable groups are enrolled,” the coalition further advised.