“BudgIT will release its annual State of States report before the end of this quarter” says Atiku Samuel, Research Lead at BudgIT.
The State of States report will look at the fiscal state of the 36 states of Nigeria, the challenges they are facing and proffer feasible solutions to some of these difficulties.
“We’re done with all the research, we covered virtually all the states in the federation,” Samuel said. He said he and his team had been working on it since the first week of January.
“We sent letters to the various states requesting information; some were very cooperative while some were a little less forthcoming.” Mr Samuel said that this was not a problem, “Whether we like it or not, there are other ways of getting the necessary information.”
“What we are doing with the State of States report is using the information we have, to do a comparative analysis of the states, especially around their fiscal policies, that is their spending structure, what their revenues and expenditures look like and so on.”
Samuel said that the States were becoming more cooperative. “When we sent out the letters in January, some states like Gombe and Anambra were pretty responsive giving us some information, but as I said, we were able to find information regardless of whether a state helped us.”
He said that this year 21 states submitted their budgets to his team. This was a massive increase from 8 last year and 5 in the initial State of States report. “We are improving, and we will get there.”
Samuel said the analysis was critical. “We need to look at the context, people always look at the Federal Government when it comes to the budget, but the Federal level only accounts for about 45 percent of total spending. State and Local Government, which is primarily controlled by the State Government anyway, takes up the majority. The Federal Government spent N176 Billion on capital items, while State Government spent close to N800 Billion!” “Therefore there is more likely to be theft at State Level, which needs greater transparency.”
Mr Samuel said the information the research team is comparing is “to find to what degree the States’ revenue is affecting their expenditure. Are they running a recurrent expenditure surplus, are they borrowing to pay salaries, can they even pay salaries?”
“Our focus is on things around this space as well as trying to find out what opportunities there are, if any, to mitigate the fiscal challenges the states may be facing, hopefully, it should be out before the end of this quarter.”