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Economists flays N4.6tr 2018 budget implementation claim, rising unemployment

By Mathias Okwe, Abuja
20 December 2018   |   4:19 am
Economists have expressed worries over rising unemployment in the country amidst Federal Government’s claim that N4.59 trillion of the N6.84 trillion targeted spending in the 2018 budget had implemented. While some of them doubted the veracity of the claims, others argued that the releases and deployment of funds might have been hampered by none-inclusiveness to…

PHOTOS:<br />President @MBuhari laid the 2019 Appropriation Bill before a joint session of lawmakers at the National Assembly, for consideration and passage into law. He was accompanied by Vice President @ProfOsinbajo .<br />#Budget2019

Economists have expressed worries over rising unemployment in the country amidst Federal Government’s claim that N4.59 trillion of the N6.84 trillion targeted spending in the 2018 budget had implemented.

While some of them doubted the veracity of the claims, others argued that the releases and deployment of funds might have been hampered by none-inclusiveness to address jobs creation for Nigerians.

Presenting the 2019 budget to the National Assembly yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari said of the N9.2 trillion budgeted in 2018, N4.59 trillion had been spent as at September 30, as against the N6.84 trillion target.

This came on a day the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the country’s third quarter (Q3) employment data, which indicated that unemployment rose from 17.6 million in Q4 2017 to 20.9 million in Q3 2018.

A Professor of Accounting and Capital Market Studies at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Uche Uwaleke, explained that the development might not be unconnected to non-inclusiveness in deploying budget estimates.

He argued that much of the releases were spent on personnel cost, which affects only Federal Government employees, adding: “The growing unemployment figure buttresses the fact that growth in the economy is still weak and not inclusive. The oil sector is not employment elastic.

“There is the need to stimulate growth in sectors that have strong linkages to jobs creation such as manufacturing, construction, ICT and agriculture. This will entail massive investments in infrastructure and putting in place measures to ensure that these sectors are able to access credits at single digit interest rate.”

Speaking, development economist, Odilim Enwegbara, noted that the country’s yearly budgetary planning and presentations, particularly under the present administration, have become mere rituals, as the country had been put on autopilot.

“Businesses are shutting down, as cost of doing business continues to soar. Our fiscal and monetary policies are only helping importers from China and India. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is formulating anti-inflationary monetary policies, while a pro-high monetary policy rate (MPR) that make crowds.

“This crowds outs the real sector from the debt markets and as a result, more and more Nigerians continue to lose their jobs, as they are priced out of the labour market. In fact, there is practically no real sector economy in place right now,” he said.

Also, a development economist and Chairman, Society of Analytical Economics, Professor Godwin Owoh, said the Nigerian economy under the Buhari administration had been wobbling with every indication pointing that everything was wrong.

A Social Commentator, Odeh Bartholomew Ejembi, added that the expenditure did not have positive impact because: “This government is misapplying a lot of fund and that is why the money in the system is not making impact, as it would have happened if the proper financial intermediation influenced by the forces of supply and demand are tailored to work through coordinated economic policies.

“Unfortunately this government is managing the economy ‘as the spirit directs’. I hope another recession is not by the corner,” he said in a social media post.