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Market volatility make 2020 budget unrealistic, says group

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Action Aid Nigeria (AAN), has warned that set objectives for the 2020 proposal are unrealistic given the volatility in the global oil market and the increasing insecurity across the country.

The social justice organisation also pointed out that the oil benchmark at $57, and the crude oil production of 2.18 barrels per day (bpd) are very unrealistic.

This is just as the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), called for speedy passage of the Appropriation Bill.
Action Aid noted that while the estimated revenue of N8.155trillion for 2020 is a welcome development, they warned that it could only be achieved if vigorously pursued, and the quick passage of the new executive Finance Bill to be submitted to lawmakers to review the domestic tax policy and increase revenue generation.

AAN Country Director, Ene Obi, in a statement to journalists yesterday, in Abuja, raised concern on the slow implementation of the 2019 budget owning to low-level revenue generation, aggregating N2.04trillion as at June end, amounting to only 58 per cent of the 2019 budget target. 

Even more worrisome for the organisation is the fact that N3.39trillion has been spent out of the N4.46trillion budgeted for recurrent expenditure as at June 30th, while only N294.63billion was released for capital expenditure as at September 30th. These, it said, pose significant implication on the infrastructural development of the country, and means that Nigeria will continue to consume far more than it is investing.

Obi further pointed out that the 2020 budget proposal has also deepened the huge gap between the capital and recurrent expenditure, saying the meagre N2.46trillion representing 24 per cent of the aggregate of the total budget for capital expenditure proposal in 2020, is not good enough for a country with high need for infrastructural development given the teeming population. 

AAN also decried the downward trend and abysmal allocations to Agriculture N81billion, Health N46billion, Education N48billion, and the Social Investment Programme N30billion, saying, it is pertinent to make provisions for adequate funding of the Agriculture, Health and Education sectors given their strategic importance.

“The health sector requires improved funding, our health centres, maternities and hospitals lack basic essential facilities and drugs, and evidence has shown that increased investment in these pro-poor sectors has a strong impact on poverty and inequality reduction, while simultaneously creating employment opportunities.”

Speaking on the speedy passage, Director General of NECA, Timothy Olawale, told The Guardian that “Our expectation is that the budget should be back to the President for assent or comments on aspects that require tinkering with by the second week in December, so that by the first week of January 2020, it would be ready for implementation.”
   
He argued that beyond the presentation of the budget, “greater commitment is expected from the National Assembly so that the budget will not suffer the usual padding controversy, leading to unnecessary bickering between the Presidency and the National Assembly.”
   
He said no effort must be spared to return Nigeria to the January-December budgeting year, to facilitate proper monitoring and disciplined implementation of projects as enshrined in the budget for the good of the citizens.
   
Olawale said the priority should be given to ongoing projects before new ones are started, and a sound monitoring and evaluation mechanism clearly defined for the successful implementation of the budget when passed into law.


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