The government’s consolidated closing accounts for 2009 has been released to much uproar of the press, fitfully followed up by parliamentarian chagrin and threats to question ministers and impeach them should they be found wanting. Why? Because although the authorised and assigned government budget for recurrent expenditures and projects for 2009 was BD2.484 billion, only spent BD2.082 billion was spent, thus not utilising approximately BD400 million which equates to approximately 16% of the total.
The most offending ministries are:
- 1. Ministry of Trade & Industry which only spent 18% of its assigned budget
2. Ministry of Education spent only 20%
3. Ministry of Finance spent only 39%
4. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent only 46%, while
5. MInistry of Health utilised only 49% of its assigned and approved budget.
This is shocking because one would be forgiven in assuming that those budgets weren’t just haphazardly assigned. They must have been required by the ministry which in turn must have (should have?) supported those requirements with projects supported by plans of action, milestones and justifications and required only as much as the projects demanded. So I wonder what transpired to have this much disparity, and is this shortfall acceptable in international standards?
I am rather disturbed by the top two non-spenders as they are key to the development of this country, one is tasked with producing the appropriately educated personnel who would wind up in acceptable jobs generated or at least envisioned by the Ministry of Trade & Industry. What’s even more worrying is that the very ministry which is tasked with setting the government’s budget seems to be not able to manage its own budgetary requirements! As to the MInistry of Health and its chronic bed and other health facilities shortage, why was 50% of its budget not utilised? I guess Foreign Affairs can run quite adequately without 54% of its assigned budget too.
What prompted this situation and why was such mismanagement tolerated? Is it a case of no oversight by the government on its own organs? Are there no internal audits performed throughout the year to ensure that funds are properly and appropriately employed?
I look forward to hear from the offending ministries’ justifications. Is it that the market reached over-capacity and couldn’t partake in some projects; therefore funds had to be sequestered for the future?
An honest look needs to be taken by parliament, the transparency and audit bureaus who should come up with proper recommendations to rectify this situation. Heads, if appropriate, must roll. At the very least, the worst three offending ministers need to be relieved of their duties. Barring excellent excuses, they have shown that they are not fit for the job.