OPINION: Kaduna’s Public Investment in Human Capital Development: A Reflection

Kaduna State
Kaduna State

By YUSUF ISHAKU GOJE

The Kaduna state government, in its State Development Plan (SDP, 2016-2020), had envisaged by 2020 all citizens should have access to quality healthcare and education; in addition, become a destination for business investment and food basket for Northern Nigeria. To achieve this, the government had committed on average to generate an estimated 124 billion Naira, as revenue per annum; expend 638.7 billion naira; and targeted to attract investment worth 800 billion naira through Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Have these ambitious targets been successfully achieved, is the obvious question begging for answers not only from the government but also residents of the states. Of particular interest, is how far the state government has performed in terms of accelerating human capital development through public investments? As envisaged, can we really say that all or substantial number of citizens have access to affordable healthcare, quality education and improved standard of livelihoods with evident dividends to the state?

The public unavailability of the annual Sector Performance Review and State Development Plan Performance Management reports make it difficult for residents to factually evaluate progress. This goes contrary to the core values and principles as encapsulated in the State Policy on Result-Based Monitoring and Evaluation, 2017, which states in part: “Monitoring and evaluating process and products shall contribute to improved governance through promoting transparency, accountability and participation. To this end, all findings must be made available to the public, unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise.”

Nonetheless, the state government has not failed to blow its own trumpet regarding progress being made in accelerating human capital development. Chief among others is the consistency in meeting the recommended budgetary allocation of 15 percent to the health sector and 26 percent to the education sector. The state government has also set-up the Human Capital Development Council headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, and made up of heads of relevant government Ministries, Departments & Agencies.

As laudable as the achievements seem, they need to be subjected to scrutiny base on outcome targets, not just service delivery output. The result framework in the State Development Plan should provide the basis for measuring the government’s performance towards meeting the Human Capital Development outcome targets. However, special focus on assessing budget performance will be appropriate in the absence of public availability of monitoring and evaluation reports by the government.

A review of the State’s budget performance over the years provides an objective testament of public investments in accelerating human capital development. According to the Kaduna State 2017 Annual Budget Implementation report, about 49.3 billion naira was allocated to the education sector as capital expenditure, out of which only 12.5 billion naira was actually released, a performance of 25.43 percent. Similarly, in the health sector about 10.5 billion naira was budgeted, with only 4.5 billion naira released, a 43.29 percent performance.

Subsequently, the performance in the two sectors has also not been very impressive. In the education sector in 2018, 31.7 billion naira was budgeted for capital expenditure, but only 7.6 billion naira was released; and in 2019, about 25.4 billion naira was allocated with only 7.6 billion naira released. Similarly in the health sector in 2018, 17.6 billion naira was budgeted, with only 5.5 billion Naira released; while in 2019, 13.2 billion naira was allocated but only 5.5 billion Naira was released.

As at the end of the third quarter of 2020, the budget performance seems to have worsened largely due to the negative impact of Covid-19 on our revenue source. According to the Kaduna State 2020 3rd Quarter Budget Implementation report, the Ministry of Education, with a capital expenditure of 22.7 billion Naira, only 3.6 billion was released, a 16 percent performance, year till date; while the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) with an allocation of 10.8 billion Naira, had zero amount released, meaning zero percent in the same period.

The Ministry of Health with a capital expenditure of 13.4 billion naira had only 998 million naira released, a 7.45 percent performance; also, the Primary Healthcare Development Agency, which had 9.5 billion Naira as capital expenditure, only 170 million naira was released, representing a decimal 1.75 percent performance. This trend becomes more worrisome when one considers that “releases” only means approval and not necessarily “cash-backing”.

The poorest and most vulnerable people in society are often most dependent on the public health and education system, and are therefore most likely to be affected by how public resources are not only allocated but cash-backed. According to the 2017 Kaduna State General Household Survey, “84.9 percent of household in the State falls into an extreme poverty level as defined in SDGs indicator tracking”. For this poor households, out-of-pocket accounts for 80% of total health expenditure relative to the 30-40% global benchmark.

In conclusion, regardless of the low budgetary performance, one must acknowledge that the government has demonstrated political will in accelerating human capital development in the state. To accelerate Human Capital Development further, the government should heed the recommendation of the Approved and Actual Budget Performance Report, April 2019, by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) of the Planning & Budget Commission, which states as follows:

“The Liquidity Management Committee (LMC) should also help implement the Abuja Declaration where it was agreed that 26% and 15% will be allocated to Education Sector and Health Sector respectively. This was adopted in the 2019 State’s Budget. The LMC should prioritize the two Sectors to achieve the desired percentages not just budgeted but actual expenditure and release of funds.”

God bless Kaduna State.

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