By Amaka Ifeakandu,
Stakeholders in the nation’s financial industry have said that the N8.6 trillion budget proposal for 2018 submitted to the National Assembly for approval is unrealistic. They said that the budget was silent on a lot of issues such as oil subsidy, contractors debts among others
Speaking In Lagos at the Budget Seminar organised by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),a professor of economist at University of Lagos, Professor Ndubuisi Nwokeoma said that the budget is very ambitious.
Wondering how the government would fund the budget, he said ” what magic are we going to perform to raise money to finance the budget. Accepting that borrowing is high,
he said over the years, the federal government has distorted the cycles of implementation of the budget in the country, stressing that we have not finished implementing the 2017 budget approved at the middle this year, we have released another document for for 2018 budget.
Expressing the need for the harmonisation of rates between monetary and fiscal policy, he said we still have high level of food inflation in the country, noting that exchange rate at N305 to a dollar was not realistic. He said that such exchange rate operate only on paper as nobody buys dollar at that rate in the country.
He stated that the nation’s economy exited from recession because of development from the oil sector.
For the country to sustain growth recorded, he said a lot of works needed to be done, adding that apart from investing in agriculture, there is need to develop other sector to increase our earnings.
On the government ability to meet revenue target proposed in 2018 budget, he reminded that a short fall of N1.5 trillion was recorded this year and a revenue of N1 trillion was realised within the period. In his explanation he said ” I think there will be more short fall in this year budget in terms of raising revenue because of the Nation’s economic system. He said “But to be sincere to ourselves the proposed budget are not realistic in real terms.”
Also speaking, Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Muda Yusuf said that the working document plan presented by President Mohammad Buhari was a fair project budget, adding that quite number of the proposed budget centred on infrastructure.
He warned Nigerians to be careful whenever they are commenting on government spending, noting that there are certain expenses the government must carry out, no matter the situation in the system. According to him, government must pay salaries of police, school teachers, lecturers, soldiers among others, stressing that all these contribute to high recurrent expenditure.
He said that the current budget presented was silent on petrol subsidy and contractor’s debt, noting that there is need to have proper framework for making provision for contractors arrears. He stated that government alone cannot achieve the expected result in infrastructural development, insisting that private sector needed to fill the infrastructure gap in the country.
The former Minister for Finance, Dr Shamsudeen Usman said that the major challenge faced in the country is that everybody wants to benefit from the budget.
He explained that ‘it is not how quickly the proposed budget gets to the National Assembly determines approval, but it depends on your ability to do underground work before the presentation. He stated that for budget to be approved without much delay, one needs to work closely with the NASS.
He stated that for things to work in the interest of the masses, it is necessary to track budget implementation.
He however expressed the need to have a framework for measuring, monitoring and evaluating budget performance.