2018 budget raise: Experts back lawmakers

…Say original estimates no longer realistic

Omodele Adigun, Bimbo Oyesola; Uche Usim

As the National Assembly (NASS) jacked up the 2018 budget to N9.12 trillion yesterday, some financial experts have thrown their weight behind the lawmakers, saying the new threshold would not even be enough to accommodate new and unexpected expenditure of the Federal Government this year.

According to Mr. Bismark Rewane, the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company (FDC), in an interview monitored on Channels Television yesterday in Lagos, the country would need between N10 trillion and N11 trillion to take care of minimum wage and subsidy, which were not originally captured by President Muhammadu Buhari’s version submitted to the NASS.

“The oil price is about 45 per cent higher than the budget threshold, the country is now in better revenue position. And since the fuel subsidy is not in the original budget, somebody is going to bear the cost. Also, minimum wage was not in that budget, that means there would be supplementary budget.

“All these show that the N9 trillion will not be enough. A budget of between N10 trillion and N11 trillion will not be too much. That is just below 2 per cent of the GDP. But I urge the government to spend efficiently. Spending and investment should not be confused. What the country needs now is investment. Investment in power, aviation and in petroleum resources. That is what can create jobs,” he added.

For its part, Nigeria’s Organised Private Sector (OPS) beleives that the House of Representatives must have taken the decision to increase the budget out of necessity.

The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, who said he would need to get the details of the increase, however, maintained that the action, no doubt, would be in the positive interest of the country.
“For them to do this, they must have come up with something that needs to be taken care of, which the budget as presented must have omitted,” he said.

He reasoned that even the amount added may not be enough for the minimum wage being proposed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) if that was part of the reason for the increase.

“The N500 billion would not even take care of what labour is asking for going by that proposal being presented to the committee,” he added. Commenting on the development, a Professor of Banking and Finance and Head of Department, Nassarawa State University, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, said he was totally in support of the actions of the National Assembly by jacking up the 2018 budget from N8.6 trillion to N9.1 trillion.

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