Nigeria’s Assembly has accented to the proposed 2018 bill of appropriation, it was finally passed on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 after six months! The 2018 budget was presented to the house by the president, Muhammadu Buhari on 7 November, 2017. The budget was dubbed “Budget of Consolidation”. According to the President: ‘The 2018 Budget Proposals are for a Budget of Consolidation. Our principal objective will be to reinforce and build on our recent accomplishments. Specifically, we will sustain the reflationary policies of our past two budgets. In this regard, the key parameters and assumptions for the 2018 Budget are as set out in the 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).’
After several criticisms and analyses carried out by the lawmakers of the country, the house saw the need to pass the budget, raising the proposed budget by N500 billion. But there had to be a special meeting of the president and two leaders of the both chambers. One will be quick to ask if the country can accommodate such raise without much effect. Nonetheless the Senate President saw it as a bid for Nigerians to benefit from the objective of the budget and opportunities it opens. Despite the increment in the budget, it is yet to meet up with standard; the recurrent expenditure is still higher than the capital expenditure. The economy budgetary woes have become recurrent expenditures, and we are not learning from the past, yet more is being budgeted to that effect. Although, this time, the budget met the threshold of reserving at least, 1% of total budget to health, thereby fulfilling the mandate of the National Health Act.
A budget that took such a long time and strict scrutiny should have been more painstakingly drafted to enhance institutional capacities, provide an enabling environment for both domestic & foreign investment, industrialise the economy, strengthen corporate governance and increase strategic infrastructure project investment with adequate provisioning for strong monitoring of these projects. Without all these in view, the budget might fail just as the previous ones.
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Some sectors’ allocations were increased: health, education, security, power, works and housing. The questions that one need to know is that what efforts will be made to ensure that this increment don’t end on paper work alone. What are the measures put in place for proper implementation of projects? What are the procurement methodology? Hope the funds won’t be swept away by corrupt officials? What are the measures to block all loopholes? These are many more are matters arising in my mind. The 2016 and 2017 budgets have gone without much being achieved, one can only hope this budget will not end the same way?
Unfortunately still, oil has the highest percentage of the projected revenue source at 37%; Value Added Tax (VAT): 3.1%; Tax Amnesty: 1.3%; Independent revenue: 12.8%; Grants and Donor Funding: 3%; Others: 5.5%. From this, the government still bases the budget on oil revenue, hanging the economy in a balance if the oil price experiences a fall once again. Without a well diversified economy, the country can not achieve the set objectives of the budget. The government must give the economy diversification the attention it requires. How are they focusing on helping the Agricultural sector become competitive in an era of GM foods and mechanised farming? What measures have been put in place to industrialised the economy to drive her to maturity? What are the methodologies employed to revitalise the art and make the sector attractive? How ready is the government to take advantage of technology in improving the country?
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