….FG cancels FEC meeting as expert express divergent views
Expectations are high as President Muhammadu Buhari signs the 2018 budget into law tomorrow, prompting divergent view from economists and financial experts.
The Daily Times recalls that the National Assembly passed a N9.1 trillion budget for 2018 fiscal year on May 16 after jerking it up from N8.6trillion budget presented to them on November 7, 2017 by Buhari.
But the Managing Director, Cowry Assets Management Company Ltd, Johnson Chukwu, has said that the budget will enable Federal Government inject more money to reflate the economy.
According to Chukwu, sector like building amongst others will record growth that will lead to job creation especially ‘‘blue collar’’ employment.
Besides, he said the development will serve as a tool for the Federal Government to embark on infrastructure projects that will drive economic activities.
Similarly, an Abuja based financial analyst and media consultant, Mr Fred Idehai, said that it is a welcome development that Buhari is assenting to the 2018 appropriation about eight months after being presented to the National Assembly for passage.
He said, “Though, the signing of the budget into law is coming a bit late partly to the undue delay by the lawmakers who were using the budget as bargaining tool to score political points against the executive arm at the expense of over 190 million Nigerians. However, it is better to be late than never.
“The delay in the signing of the budget without being immodest affected the economy adversely as Nigeria was just coming out of economic recession and needed enough liquidity in the economy as well as embark on infrastructural development to prevent the nation sliding back to recession.
‘‘As a patriotic Nigerian, I expect all government ministries, departments agencies (MDAs) to roll up their sleeves and embark on programmes and projects that will have direct bearing in the lives of the citizens. It should be more of work and less talk.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, should as a matter of urgency not delay in releasing as well as cash backing the release to MDAs in order for them to hit the ground running especially those that already have concrete plans on what the money should be use for.
“With the signing of the 2018 budget into law, government contractors will be paid and work will resume at the sites of abandoned projects which will invariably provide jobs for some Nigerians.
‘‘The only area in the whole budget process that beat my imagination was the unilateral increase of the figure by the legislative arm from eight to nine trillion naira.
Though in a normal situation it would have been okay but based on their initial position of grandstanding, accusations and counter accusations on inflating of figures, the situation became suspicious.
But would the president have agreed to sign the budget into law if the lawmakers had reviewed the figure downward?’’
For Prof Adi Bongo, Lagos Business School, “The government thinks it can achieve much with the sectoral targeted approach it is using to grow the economy. But from all indications, it is not working.”
On his part, Chief Economist, Vetiva, an investment bank, Michael Famoroti, noted that ‘‘whilst the overall positive growth is welcomed, the under-performance of the non-oil sector showed Nigerian economy is not out of the woods.”
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, recently said that the delay in passage of the country’s 2018 budget would have some impact on the nation and cause some adjustments in implementation.
She said this during a news conference in Abuja, adding that the impact was because markets change and the cost of money in the market changes too.
Adeosun, however, said that the Federal Government would try to mitigate the effects of the delay.
She said, “Honestly, we may need to realign some of the priorities now because what we thought we would be doing in January is now different from what we are going to do.
“So, we are going to have to look very closely to see where we would realign and re-prioritise, but we will carry on because most of the capital projects are multiyear projects so we will just.’’
But President Muhammadu Buhari will on Wednesday (tomorrow) signed the 2018 budget into law, this is even as this week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) has been put off.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the budget will be signed at about 11am tomorrow.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had last week disclosed to State House Correspondents while briefing on the outcomes of FEC meeting that the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N9.1 trillion will be assented to by President Buhari this week.
Both chambers of the National Assembly had on May 16, 2018 approved the budget estimates submitted by Buhari on November 7, 2017.