The competence and accuracy of the records, (Champ, 1987). Expenditure of financial resources of the public needs to be strictly controlled otherwise, people charged with the responsibility of expending public funds would do so to their benefits or advantage, thereby making the attainment of government objectives difficult if not impossible. The control of public expenditure is important to an individual in particular and the public in general as these controls contributes to the attainment of the objectives of the public expenditure. The management and control of public funds is the heart of government administration, government businesses, whether in form of policies, programmes, activities or functions should be run in accordance with the laid-down rules and regulations. These rules and regulations become vigorous especially in relation to the accounting and reporting for the purpose of collecting and disbursement of government funds, which supports the process of governance. Oshami (1991), who state that “It is obvious to say that except government expenditure is controlled, no matter the amount of funds collected on its behalf will have no positive effect on the public.
As earlier stated, the expenditure of public funds is regulated by laws. In Nigeria, we have two kinds of laws which can be identified and also recognized. Laws made during the civilian government both at the federal and state levels are known as “Acts” on the other hand, laws made at the federal level during the military government are known as “Decrees”. While that of state level are known as “Edicts” and the Senate at the Federal level and the State House of Assembly approves the annual financial budget of the public and initiate various laws for their controls.
RESPONSIBILITY OF GOVERNMENT OVER EXPENDITURE
Such functions may include the establishment of law and order, maintenance of peace and security, provision of social amenities, quality education, internal and external security (the defence), administration of justice, and most fundamentally, enactment of laws for the good governance of the people. These are functions that are performed by the government of a modern state either directly or through any of its several ad-hoc agencies. The enormity of the responsibilities stacked on the government, a few of which are itemized above, has never been in doubt. As such, there is ordinarily a need to resort to the economic concept of division of labour among the several entities making up the government to ease the loads on a single body and to prevent over-concentration of powers in the hands of such body. This is the rationale behind the distribution of governmental powers among three organs in most modern states.4 Government is thus operated under a tripartite arrangement whereby provision is made for an organ to make laws – the Legislature; for another organ to execute the laws so made – the Executive; and for yet another organ to interpret the laws made by the legislature in real factual situations coming before the court – the Judiciary. This is known as ‘horizontal’ separation of powers. There is yet another type of SOP in a federal structure known as ‘vertical’ SOP, and under this arrangement, governmental powers are distributed between the central, state and local governments in the way and manner provided for by the grundnorm of the land.5
It need be emphasized from the onset however that the above division is not the traditional way of administering the people during the early periods of human existence as this arrangement was only developed some few centuries back and is known as the doctrine of separation of powers, courtesy of Baron de Montesquieu. It is at the emergence of Montesquieu theory that it becomes mandatory for states to constitutionally identify the power centers within the states and assign definite distinct roles to each of the existing organs.6
Thus, “separation of powers” as currently understood implies that none of the legislative, executive and judicial powers is able to control or interfere with the others (e.g. the judges should be independent of the executive and the legislature), or that the same individuals should not hold posts in more than one of the three branches (e.g. that ministers should not be members.
IMPORTANCE OF GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE CONTROL WITHIN A COUNTRY
(a) It is important to scholars who may wish to do further study in this area or related areas.
(b) It will educate those who do not understand what expenditure control entails.
(c) It should afford those charged with the responsibility of spending public founds, the opportunity to know if they observed the rules and regulations governing expenditure of government funds and hence appropriation of such expenditure.
(d) It enable the officers improve on the system of expenditure where lapses are discovered to exist.
This is the primary and supreme legal instrument which sets the general framework for the financial management as well as accounting and financial reporting in government, section 80(1-4) of the 1999 constitution covers the following key areas in government accounting.
- The operation of funds
- The external control for operating the accounting system
- The appropriation procedures.
The machinery for the financial administration of the Federation came out of the decision taken at the constitutional conference held in May and June 1957.
It was agreed at the conference that colonial regulation were not in the then “present stage of constitutional development, an authority for the regulation of Nigeria’s finance”. It was decided that certain basic financial principles should be embodied in the constitution rather than left to the discretion of the legislature. It resulted in the constitutional amendment order of 1957 which insert sub-sections (a) (e) into section 154. These sub-sections deals with the operation of the consolidation revenue fund, the authorization of expenditure, legislative approval and audit accounts of the government.
The financial regulation which is both an accounting and financial document serves several purposes. It is primarily a code of regulation. Viewing the financial regulation as a body of rules suggests that, the provisions in general are expected to aid the achievement of probity and accountability in government part of the financial regulation which comprises of code of regulation made up of rules which specify actions accepted and those deemed not acceptable.
The civil service being a complex and large organization requires set standards in order to ensure uniformity and conformity of application. The preference of the minister for finance to reverse the financial regulation (1976) throws light on the position of the government and its expectations on the role of financial regulation in ensuring accountability, prevention of abuses, misuse or misappropriation of government funds and as also stated.
All system concern with the receipts and disbursement of public funds must have been clearly defined and sometimes meticulous procedures, even where these procedures may appear some how cumbersome, transaction of public business can be facilitated through liberal and flexible approach to duty by officers whose day-to-day job is to apply and interpret these regulations. The regulations are not meant to transform officers into robots, but initiative in the application of rules and procedures, as these are legitimate and defensible.
ROLES OF THE LEGISLATIVE OVER CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE
The essence of this provision is to ensure fiscal discipline in the use of public funds. The constitution mindful of the consequence of delay in the passage of a budget also, made provision for an interim expenditure in the event that the budget approval was delayed. Thus, the President/ State Governors are empowered for a maximum period of six months to incur expenditure when the appropriation bill is not approved before the commencement of the new financial year.53 The amount to be spent will not exceed the amount approved in the preceding budget and covers expenses for services of government. The constitution however, did not clarify whether the interim expenditure is restricted to recurrent expenditure or cover both recurrent and capital expenditure. Nonetheless, the provision for a six-month period differs from the practices in other constitutions, which is around an average of between 3 to 4 months. The power of implementation of the budget rests with the President and the Governors. The President and the Governors are empowered to appoint ministers/ commissioners for the various implementing ministries, departments and agencies. The parliament exercises control over the executive through its consent on the appointment of the ministers/ commissioners; and the power of oversight function. The parliament can verify projects under execution by the various ministries, departments and agencies. To perform this function, the parliament is granted powers by the constitution to invite any minister or commissioner or any other government official to appear before it to explain the conduct of his ministry or when such a ministry is under discussion.55 The constitution made it possible for the parliament to constitute sectoral committees to carry out the oversight function, having the right to investigate the disbursements of money appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly/ the State House of Assembly. However, there was no provision that the Accountant – General of the Federation and the State Accountant-General should provide regular reports to the parliament and publish it for the consumption of the general public as a guarantee of fiscal transparency except the submission of financial reports to the Auditor-General. In addition, the constitution did not provide a specific time frame in which the Accountant-General will furnish the Auditor-General the financial report.
ROLES OF THE PUBLIC OVER CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE
Public budgets are one of the most important issues with which governments deal. They incorporate decisions on a wide array of issues – from education to health care to taxes – that affect people’s lives in significant ways. The past decade has seen an explosion of interest among citizens and civil society groups around the world in engaging in budget issues, through a mix of analysis, public education, and advocacy. For the most part, this work has focused on the formulation and enactment of budgets. Two previous publications from the International Budget Project (IBP) – A Guide to Budget Work for NGOs and A Guide to Tax Work for NGOs – showcase many examples of budget advocacy initiatives that are intended to influence budgets during the formulation and legislative enactment stages.2 Looking Beyond Budget Making to Budget Execution However, influencing the development of budgets is not, by itself, enough to achieve an organization’s advocacy goals. Even more important than what a budget says it will do is what it actually ends up delivering. Do funds allocated to schools, clinics, or roads actually go to finance those things, or are they instead diverted to another program – or an official’s pocket? The goal of this guide is to help citizens and civil society groups answer that question.
Finally, a budget’s impact can usually be assessed only after expenditures have been made. By examining the impacts during and after the execution phases, civil society can hold governments accountable for the budget’s concrete results. This is especially important because government budgets often present little information on what they expect to achieve: education budgets, for example, may not detail the number of teachers to be recruited, and health budgets may not detail the number of new hospitals to be constructed. In such cases, civil society can collect information independently and thereby hold governments accountable.
ROLES OF THE MINISTER, TREASURY OVER CONTROL OF GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURE
Their links to the Ministry enable them to develop strategic alignment with Government’s policy goals. Each entity produces, operates and reports according to its own strategic plan, and its inclusion in this section is to reflect briefly on the broad approach of each entity and its relevance to the National Treasury’s strategic goals and business. The Internal Audit Function (IAF) of the National Treasury has fulfilled its mandate of providing an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity that is designed to add value and improve the National Treasury’s operations. It helps the National Treasury accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic disciplined approach to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance within the National Treasury. The function operates in accordance with an approved Internal Audit Charter. The IAF is guided by a fully functional Audit Committee which operates in terms of an approved Audit Committee terms of reference. The IAF continues to monitor its human capital and ensures that there are processes in place to make sure that existing staff obtain appropriate qualifications. The IAF through engagement with internal stakeholders formulated a comprehensive three-year rolling plan, incorporating an annual plan that was approved by the Audit Committee. The annual audit plan was executed during the year under review with the assistance of a Co- Sourced Service Provider. The IAF also performed a number of consulting activities and relationships with management improved as evidenced by the number of unplanned specialised audits, which in turn, indicate that management sees the value of the IAF within its system of governance.
These powers are unlimited amendment powers of the draft budget, oversight functions and the control of the appointment of the minister of finance and treasury Auditor – General. This is reasonable as it is intended to provide checks and balances and also, ensure the entrenchment of fiscal accountability and transparency in the budgetary processes. However, the recent performance of the process of draft budgets approval in the new dispensation shows signs of problems caused by a wide range of conflicts between the legislators and the executive. These conflicts resulted to higher budget deficits and unnecessary delays. Both the executive and the legislators share in the blame of these conflicts as they have interpreted their constitutional role from different angles. Therefore, they must exercise caution in the budget approval processes, taking the general interest of the public in the discharge of such powers. Thus, the excessive use of these powers on their part will cause more havoc on the economy and could result in macro economic instability.
Hornby, A.S (2001), Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary: University Press.
Orsaah, S. (2009), Introduction to Behavioral Research. Makurdi: Aboki Publishers.
Son, J.I.B (994), Management Control in Public Sector, Nigerian Accountant, Jan./March,2003.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. as amended 2010.
Akintola A.J., Law, Practice and Procedure of Legislature (Lagos: Learned Publications Ltd, 1999)
James Madison, The Federalist: A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States (New York: Random House Modern Library, 1937)
John Locke Two Treatises on Government (United Kingdom: Awnsham Churchill Publication 1689)
Micheal Allen & Brian Thompson, Cases and Materials on Constitutional & Administrative Law (London: Blackstone Press Limited, 1998)
Department for International Development (DFID). “Working with Supreme Audit Institutions.” Policy Division Briefing. 2005. Retrieved on July 7, 2007.
De Renzio, Paolo, Vitus Azeem, and Vivek Ramkumar. “Budget Monitoring as an Advocacy Tool: A Case Study on the Uganda Debt Network.” International Budget Project. 2006. Retrieved on February 21, 2007.https://www.internationalbudget.org/Uganda-UDN.pdf