Activities at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) may soon be grounded if the budget impasse between Executive Secretary Prof. Usman Yusuf and the Board of the scheme is not resolved.
Board Chairman Mrs. Enyantu Ifenne has vowed not to grant approval to the budget submitted by the executive secretary. The budget is padded and lacks transparency, among other flaws, Dr. Ifenne said.
She argued in an August 20 memo to Yusuf that any attempt to approve the budget would be misconstrued as a conspiracy to defraud the system.
The council chair implored Yusuf to reflect the council’s positions on all the contentious areas as enumerated and represent the document for authorisation.
The management and the board have since been undecided over the budget, as the management seems not ready to carry out the directives of the board.
Hence, the NHIS which is responsible for the regulation of the country’s health insurance scheme, has no budget yet to drive its operation, four months to the end of the year.
The management’s revised budget submitted to the board proposes revenue/income of N44.92 billion and expenditure of N64.73 billion, with a budget deficit of N19.81 billion. It was rejected for not reflecting the outcome of the board’s deliberations.
The board rejected the budget because of the 30.6 per cent, which it described as unacceptably high.
Besides, the board pointed out that the revised budget was embellished with some suspicious duplication of expenditure items worth N264.9 million.
Other observation made by the board include non-reflection of the N64 million allocation from the Federal Government in the scheme’s revenue projections for the year.
The council also complained about inflation of the amounts if approved for manpower development. The council at its July 24 emergency meeting resolved that the budgetary provision for various manpower training be pegged at N250 million pending the comprehensive staff auditing.
The management proposed N1.010 billion. The council asked the management to reduce the proposed trainings.
The council also frowned against the N50 million budgeted for Corporate Social Responsibility. The initial budget was N100 million, which was rejected by the council. It argued that it was not a justifiable application of insurance funds.
The council also pointed out the repetition of items under various headings.
In view of the said observations, the council directed the management to seek technical support from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning or the Budget Office to ensure that the budget aligns with standard formats.
The council alleged that the management did not comply with its directive. It argued that the format presented by the management makes tracking and evaluation of the budget performance impossible.
The council also noted: “For the same reasons, the budget summary presented with the proposal is sketchy as it does not, among other flaws, disaggregate expenditure on key budget items, such as Overhead, programmes/capital expenditure.”
“Lack of transparency in the scheme’s budget inflicts with the principles of good governance, accountability and anti-corruption drive of the Buhari administration,” it said.
The board insisted that until the necessary amendment agreed on at the 24th July 2018 meeting is carried out, the budget will not have its blessing.
The scheme has been running on no-budget since the beginning of the year.
The first attempt to put up a budget was made in 2017 prior to the suspension of the Executive Secretary. The budget was rejected on the ground that it was, unrealistic and a wasteful deployment of fund on white elephant projects.
Health Minister Prof. Isaac Adewole then directed that the budget be reviewed, which was done by the then acting Executive Secretary, Attahiru Ibrahim.
The reviewed budget already got the approval of the necessary bodies when Yusuf was reinstated and on resumption of office, he discarded the budget and began a fresh process which was rejected by the board.
The council noted that the first budget proposal was rejected based on the lack of budget narrative; and expenditures not measurably linked to council strategic objectives. The budget was also said not to have aligned with National Chart of Accounts (NCOA) format and also not complied with standard international best accounting practices.
This, the council said, is pertinent as NHIS seeks to leverage funds from international development organisations.