By Chris Udochukwu
The Budget Office of the Federation (under the Ministry of Budget and National Planning) has announced that it will no longer make budgetary allocations for professional bodies and councils, a part of the federal government’s latest move to reduce spending.
According to the budget office memo dated June 26, 2023, to the Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology (NiCFoST), the Presidential Committee on Salaries (PCS) approved the “discontinuation of budgetary allocation” to “professional bodies and councils.”
It is yet to be seen how the decision would affect professional bodies and councils that largely depend on the federal government’s subventions.
“The purpose of this letter therefore is to inform you that, in compliance with PCS’s directive, this office will no longer make budgetary provisions to your institution with effect from the above-stated date and, you will be regarded as a self-funded organisation,” the letter stated.
It added, “For the avoidance of doubt, you will be required, effective 31 December 2026, to be fully responsible for your personnel, overhead, and capital expenditures.”
Professional bodies in Nigeria are largely responsible for research and technology development in their fields, relying on government funding to conduct ethical reviews and propose and promote new professional standards.
The withdrawal of funding may raise worry that the standards and development gap which they bridge may be undermined by weak and loosely enforced government regulations that would come in their place.
The NiCFoST was established in 2019 with an act of parliament that vested it with powers to set the requirements for those wishing to register as members of the profession of food science and technology in terms of their knowledge, exposure to tools, practice, and skills.
The council also has powers to establish and maintain a register of persons entitled to the practice of the food profession. The council’s operations have been focused on quality output rather than profit and self-sustenance seeking.
The “discontinuation of budgetary allocation” to the council may force it to increase fees that may be chargeable in obtaining its approval and licences.