By Sola Fanawopo
That only a few people know the real state of Osun State Government finances is a brutal fact. But I am happy that Governor Gboyega Oyetola, a man described by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as an encyclopedia of finance, must have a first-class knowledge of the sorry state of the finances of the state.
From what I could glean from the tonnes of documents available from the Debt Management Office (DMO) on Osun State, there is a backlog of the balance of salaries paid between 26 percent and 50 percent for 33 months.
Gratuity of 30 months is also owed to core civil servants (CCS), teachers and local government workers with one year leave bonus yet to be paid.
The unremitted payment of contributory pension is estimated at about N50 billion. Yes! N50 billion – this simply means that the state workers would be retiring into misery, if nothing is done now.
The state domestic debt stood at N153, 411,852,210.56.
Only Rauf Aregbesola, the immediate past Governor and Oyetola and few other guys know our foreign debt figures. I just hope it is not in triple digits of billions?
Like a close friend to the Governor said recently, the overall debt profile of the state has become like a masquerade’s fart, that Oyetola must enjoy without complain because he was part of the immediate past government as the Chief of Staff. The only problem is that the stench from the fart may soon pervade the whole state, if nothing is done now.
One of the things Oyetola must do now is to carry out a spending review so that the little amount of money available in the state’s treasury would be well managed and allocated optimally for the benefit of the good people of Osun.
Amongst other benefits, spending reviews have the potential to provide significant insight into budget allocations, enabling higher productivity and greater operational efficiency in the state.
At a time like this, Osun State Government has no other choice than to manage its resources efficiently and provide services at the lowest possible cost. The era of awarding one kilometre of road for N1bn is over in Osun State.
However, Governor Oyetola must go beyond traditional budgeting and take a more innovative approach to managing public finances.
According to Mckinsey Center for Government, spending reviews have the potential to provide significant insight into budget allocations, leading to recommendations that can enable higher productivity and greater operational efficiency. They also boost transparency, offering citizens more insight into why and how money is spent. But, there is no single formula for spending reviews.
Osun State government can tailor its frameworks based on its priorities. However, there are approaches that could help support sustainability and increase the chance of ongoing benefits.
These include establishing granular financial and operational baselines; understanding the underlying drivers of costs, benchmarking the efficiency of spending to identify opportunities for improvement, and make recommendations to improve efficiency or re-allocate resources.
It is governments that put in place these strategic foundations that are likely to succeed in creating a new generation of structured spending reviews that are reliable, effective, and rewarding.
And it is my fervent wish and hope that Governor Oyetola will heed this advice.
- Fanawopo is a Public Affairs Analyst/Strategist