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Budget passage continues to generate mixed feelings

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Andrew Nevin

Experts call new projects ‘greater waste’
Economic affairs analysts have continued to express mixed feelings over the possibility of implementing the 2018 budget estimates.

Specifically, the analysts express doubts over a better implementation of the N9.12 trillion record-high budget, which was signed into law after seven months of the initiation.

In separate interviews with The Guardian, Advisory Partner and Chief Economist, PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria, Dr. Andrew Nevin, said though the approval was a welcome development, the delays in finalising the entire process is damaging to the economy and the people.

He argued that the budget that was initiated in November 2017, has delayed key developmental projects and removed vital fiscal stimulus at a time the country was in dire need of critical infrastructure development.

Nevin said the removal of thousands of projects, and the inclusion of thousands of new ones by the legislature will likely lead to greater inefficiencies and waste.

According to him, the legislative branch is not equipped to properly evaluate the costs and benefits of the projects added and removed, noting that government’s work is the only source of formal employment and is the catalyst that has huge multiplier effects in local economies.

“The process highlights the many challenges of governing a complex and large nation like Nigeria. But the net result is that we continue to have sub-par economic growth.

“These grim facts should serve as a wake-up call to both the executive and legislative branches to inject a huge sense of urgency into the management of the economy. How many years can we get poorer and poorer, with burgeoning youth unemployment, before Nigeria suffers a social calamity?” he queried.

Similarly, the Dean of the College of Postgraduate Studies, Caleb University, Prof Segun Ajibola, said he was not optimistic of a better implementation of the 2018 budget, because of its late passage, which he said will cause some areas of capital projects not to be fully implemented.

“The time is running out very fast and we are already at the middle of the year and the budget is supposed to last 12 months, so there is pressure on the executive arm of the government to get all the provisions of the budget implemented, which may not be met,” he said.

Ajibola, a former President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) linked the delays to the problems of bureaucracy, loss of disconnect in terms of budget estimate submitted to the National Assembly for them to consider and give their approval before the President signs.

When asked if the pressure of 2019 general elections may hasten implementation, Ajibola said: “If that happens, it is good for the economy because what one expects now is for the various agencies to double up their efforts to ensure full implementation of the budget.

“If would happen, then we will have to see less of bureaucracy, less of public delay and we will have business approach to the implementation of the budget.”

President of Nigerian institute of Management, Prof Olukunle Iyanda, also said he was not optimistic of a better budget performance due to late passage of the document.


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