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Place health, education sectors on statutory transfer

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By Ali Baba-Inuwa
BudgIT, a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) has urged the Federal Government to prioritise the funding of health and education sectors through placing them on statutory transfers of the annual budget.

Statutory income is income that is not ordinary income and is usually included in assessable income by way of a specific provision in the income tax legislation.

BudgIT Head of Innovation, Mr Abel Akeni, disclosed this at a Workshop on Public Finance for Children organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Abuja on Thursday.

Akeni said the action would help safeguard the future of Nigerian children by ensuring regular funding for the sectors.

“The way out is that the country should work towards moving priority areas like health and education sectors to statutory transfer so they can be addressed the same way the judiciary and legislature are being treated in terms of funding.

“Since the judiciary and the legislature get money allocated to them in bulk, this way the health and education sectors can get their allocation as official priority,’’ he said.

Akeni, however, said that the process might take a long time to materialise.

“It is not something that can happen overnight, it has to be gradual; it is going to take two to three years of hard work, dialogue and lobbying especially between the Federal Government and the National Assembly,’’ he said.

Akeni also expressed reservation on the execution of some empowerment programmes in the country.

“Execution of empowerment programmes is something government should look into, lots of politicians actually use those things as reward for their base.

“I think government should shift focus to projects that will be beneficial to a large number of people rather than constituency or empowerment programmes.

“And the projects should be closely monitored so we can get the best return from them,’’ he said.

Akeni also advised government against bogus estimation of annual revenue in budget.

“Our budget forecasting is used by politicians to boost their ego by trying to give the impression that they are actually working towards executing many projects.

“They make projections for trillions of naira from oil revenue which our production might not be able to support.

“Government should be more realistic in the forecast because each time they give bogus forecast we end up borrowing to fill the gap and the more we borrow, the higher our debt servicing,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop was organised for staff of UNICEF Regional offices in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

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