ABU Journal, Department Of Public Administration
Volume No: 2|
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Title: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REPOSITIONING OF NIGERIAN BUDGETARY PROCESS AND OUTCOMES
DR. JOHN DANIEL NDAN
DEPARTMENT PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION,&NBSP;AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY, ZARIA, NIGERIA
Fiscal stability, control, transparency, accountability and probity served as bases for the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 enacted by the National Assembly. Corruption and mismanagement are very popular in the vocabulary of financial management in Nigeria. Corruption is not an accident of history or a genetic disorder peculiar to Nigeria, it festers where there are loopholes that give people free rein to cut corners and where there is absence of sanctions to punish bad behaviour. Unfortunately, the budget is where perpetration of corruption is rampant. The objective of this paper is to critically examine how Fiscal Responsibility has ensured prudent management of resources and macroeconomic stability; whether it has secured greater accountability and transparency in public financial management and to determine, if it has promoted national economic objectives. The research methodology adopted was essentially content analysis or documentary survey and limited interview using purposive sampling method. In the documentary method, Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Textbooks, periodicals and official documents of the Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Budget Office, Office of Fiscal Responsibility Commission and the official publications of the National Assembly were utilized. The study established that Fiscal Responsibility Act is operational mainly at the federal level. States and Local Governments were not captured but are expected through a memorandum of understanding to adopt at their level, if they so choose, because of the federal structure we operate. Some states and local government have adopted it, while many others have not. The study also revealed the commencement of the production and presentation of Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), started since 2009 as demanded by the Fiscal Responsibility Act. Though there were flaws here and there but certainly, it shows the determination of government in putting things right. It was established that Fiscal responsibility has been able to keep the budget in check. It is therefore recommended that the Fiscal Responsibility Commission should be able to enforce its principles to ensure that the government and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) adhere strictly to it. States and local governments should adopt the fiscal responsibility Act in their various areas of jurisdictions as the states and the local governments draw more than half of their revenue from the federation account and so should be compelled to adopt fiscal responsibility in the best national interest. Nigeria should take a cue from the experience of Brazil, in Brazil, fiscal responsibility legislation covers all the three tiers of government and the result is that there is more optimal growth and fiscal stability compared to India where fiscal legislation applies only to the centre with unsatisfactory result. Government should have the political will to enforce strictly provision of fiscal responsibility to curtail budget indiscipline, ensure order and discipline taking loans by all tiers of government.
The success of any Fiscal Responsibility framework hinges on appropriate design, consistency in Public Financial Management (PFM) regulations, and enforcement of their provisions. Certainly the adoption of the fiscal responsibility act and its strict adherence is key to effective and efficient public financial management in Nigeria. Over the years public commentators have viewed budget and its process as an annual ceremonial ritual that is yearly celebrated but without any visible impact on the growth and development of the economy. Also, the budget is a financial document for allocation, accountability, probity and control reflecting the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians.