By Abdulwahab Oba
There are three attributes of the concept of pragmatism that I seek to relate with the 2017 budget proposals by Kwara state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed. First is that a pragmatist spends time thinking about results; a pragmatist is burdened about the capability of engagements to produce desired results; he does not fight the air in planning but attaches every step and decision to practical and verifiable outcomes.
The second attribute relates with the fact that pragmatism involves “a straightforward practical way of thinking about things or dealing with problem.” It is the very opposite of the ostrich approach, which dwells much on pretense and vain glory. A pragmatist looks at problems or challenges squarely and presents verifiable, duplicable, solutions to such challenges. And finally, pragmatism involves a concern with results rather than with theories and principles, according to Encarta Dictionary. Theories are good to explain concepts and phenomena, but they may not be sufficient to drive results. Hence, a pragmatist looks beyond the projections and predictions of theories to establish workable and achievable goals, instead of relying on high sounding concepts and formulas.
An overview of the 2017 budget for Kwara state indicates that it is based more on principles of pragmatism than extant economic theories. The governor, who took active part in all the processes that culminated in the eventual presentation of the budget proposal to the state’s lawmakers late last year, provided the basis for the assertion on the pragmatic platform embedded in the proposals.
Hear him: “based on the current financial realities, the revenue expectations for the coming year may not be significantly different from that of the outgoing year, especially from the federation account. In this regard, we intend to fully exploit the economic potentials of the State. For this purpose, we are going to diligently exploit all potential sources of Internally Generated Revenue through the improvement of existing revenue line items while breaking new ground.
Like the humanist he is, he promised that this will, however, “be pursued in a manner that will not inflict hardship on our people.”
The 2017 “Budget of Introspection and Sustenance” is anchored on current economic realities and the determination to look inwards for sustained prosperity and development. It underlines government”s resolve to sustain ongoing infrastructure. The Main Objectives of 2017 Budget are directed at expanding and improving the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, base and reducing dependence on Federal Allocation.
This year’s budget is specifically aimed at blocking leakages through sustenance of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system, and moderation of recurrent expenditure that will result in significant savings for Infrastructure development. Provision of infrastructure that will deepen the socio-economic development of the State and enhance the welfare of the citizenry is a premium objective of the budget.
In other to address the ever growing population of unemployed youth, the budget also focuses on ensuring job creation and inclusive growth. “In order to facilitate the attainment of these objectives,” the governor pledged to vigorously pursue the diversification of the production and revenue base of the State economy; reduction in the cost of governance and prudent utilisation of available resources in critical areas; the completion of ongoing capital projects, especially in the areas which have direct impact on the welfare of the people and improved service delivery and elimination of all areas of waste.
According to the pragmatic governor, “the 2017 Budget proposal builds on the prevailing macroeconomic realities in the country as a result of the collapse in oil prices in the international Market. In preparing this Budget, we were guided by the assumptions of the potential impact of global economic uncertainties and domestic challenges. We have therefore maintained a prudent approach to estimating revenues for the 2017 financial year in order to cushion the economy from possible fiscal shocks that may arise.
“Also, the capital spending proposal is geared towards critical infrastructure that would improve socio-economic development of the State, aid private sector participation, and ultimately, reduce unemployment and poverty.”
“Our commitment to bridge the Infrastructure Development gap in the State remains unshaken despite the present economic challenges. In line with this determination, the state Government has devised innovative means of financing the Infrastructural projects in the State through the establishment of Kwara Infrastructure Development Fund known as IF-K.”
The IF-K is sourced from the State Internally Generated Revenue deduction of Five Hundred Million Naira only on a monthly basis. This singular act will free up money for the state’s critical infrastructure and other social related expenditure. In addition, government is looking at alternative financing sources for some of our projects through Public Private Partnership in the coming financial year.
Looking at the financial outlays in terms of naira and kobo, it is evident that the entire proposal has been guided by the governor’s commitment to ensuring that there are no such projection that would eventually lead to abandoned projects or the so called white elephant projects syndrome in any part of the state. With the adoption of zero budgeting system in preparing the proposal, every expenditure item is properly defined; there are no overlaps and inflation of needs among end users of the budget and at the end, implementation are more easily verifiable, even by members of the public who now know what project has been specified for which area of the state and at what time frame.
Little wonder the governor had assured the people of the state of his unwavering resolve to deliver on priority areas and complete all on-going projects in the State before the end of the tenure of this administration.
And being the frank, real and pragmatic leader that he is, the governor acknowledged that people have sincerely preserved with government in the last one year and showed their understanding even when things became so tough.
But since a pragmatist is ever burdened about the capability of engagements to produce desired results, Ahmed has very forward looking projections for the people of Kwara in 2017. His promise: “We shall continue to work hard in order to put these economic challenges behind us. With full determination and our collective efforts, we shall succeed in the desire to sustain the growth and development of our State.”
That is a bankable pledge because it is anchored on the time honoured principle of pragmatism.
*Oba, can be reached via email@example.com