From Ngozi Onyeakusi, Lagos
Experts at the ‘2018 Budget Seminar’ organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Lagos, have described 2018 budget recently presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly as being over ambitious and lacks the capacity to drive growth.
According to the Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, the budget lacked the capacity to drive growth especially at the period when the country is recovering from recession.
“It is not an expansionary budget; we are not spending our way to growth,” he said.
He equally pointed out that the budget failed to address multiple exchange rates in the economy adding that the prevalence of such rates would continue to distort the market. “Inflationary projection in the budget is not realistic. Government is silent on subsidy on power and petroleum products, and minimum wage. The projection for non-oil revenue is not realistic and the deficit gap may widen after all.”
Similarly, Professor of Economics at the University of Lagos, Ndubisi Nwokoma described the 2018 budget as being over ambitious and unrealistic. “Oil production is also ambitious. We are being too optimistic without a clear plan of how to achieve our target. Over the years, we have distorted the budget cycle. This will affect implementation and good accounting. Nigeria should have a clear budget cycle and budgetary interferences should be avoided.
N305 per dollar exchange rate is not real. I foresee a wide margin in the budget implementation. Government ambition is magical. If we hasten the passage of the 2018 budget for February or so, 2017 budget implementation will be inconclusive.
We are not learning from the challenges or problems of 2017 budget. It is likely we fall into same mess. Our budgetary woes have become recurrent, and we are not learning from the past.”, he said.
Corroborating, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf, faulted the fact that the budget was silent about Contractors’ arrears to the tune of about N2 trillion. “Being totally silent about this is bad. Contractor arrears are also becoming a threat as over ‘N2tn is at stake. The risk involved in doing business with government is becoming worrisome.
He however commended the budget for focusing more on infrastructure, though spelt out that private sector participation in the budget was not made clear especially in terms of infrastructure financing.
“That the budget is focusing more on infrastructure is a good way to go. But given that subsidy areas are becoming a huge threat to the economy and the budget is rather silent on it calls for worry. “The private sector participation in the budget was not made clear especially in terms of infrastructure financing. The private sector should play a major role here”, he stated.