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Budget 2019 and the blind leading the blind

PRESIDENT Muhammed Buhari, lastly laid the 2019 budget prior to the National Assembly, on Wednesday 19th December 2018; that is, barely 2 days before Parliament abandoned for the Year End vacations. Incidentally, there was no obvious regret, nor certainly explanation why this mandatory process took so long; perhaps, nevertheless, tardy application and gross distortion of the budget strategy are the normal items of such casual technique to this important national project.


President Muhammadu Buhari (M), providing the 2019 Budget plan at the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday

President Muhammadu Buhari (M), providing the 2019 Budget plan at the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday


There was clearly, no lesson gained from the 2018 budget which received Governmental assent in June 2018, and consequently left hardly 6 months for carrying out a forecasted 12-month Capital spending plan. Eventually, by December, simply N820bn had actually been launched out of N2.652 tn allocated infrastructural improvement.

The serial failure of the budget plan process considering that in 1999, is characterised by decayed Infrastructure, low performance and increasing rate of joblessness.

Undoubtedly, the glaring failure of the present spending plan process to instigate more jobs development and improved social welfare is plainly substantiated by the most current National Bureau of Stats report that the number of out of work Nigerians, had risen from about 17million in 2017 to well over 20million, a year later. The Brookings Institution (a Washington based Economic think-tank) Report of relative hardship, recently, also concluded that Nigeria was currently the World’s Poverty Capital, with a capability to stampede a minimum of 6 people into poverty every minute!

Arguably, nevertheless, the poor yearly budget plan efficiency, given that 1999, is most likely sustained by the erroneous concept, that increasingly puffed up financial strategies would translate into much better facilities, enhance social welfare and develop more tasks.

There is seemingly, nevertheless, little difference, for example, in the social effect between the last Administration’s reasonably modest N4.92 tn 2015 budget and the application of the much larger N7.44 tn 2017 budget plan.

Therefore, it would, be helpful, going forward, to analyze the important, typical functions which continue to challenge Nigeria’s fiscal plans; therefore, in addition to the regressive effect of extended hold-ups and nominally puffed up spending plans, other factors, such as material of yearly budgets will be taken a look at; additionally, the concern of an obtuse exchange rate mechanism, and debilitating financial obligation and service charges will also be regarded, together with the synthetic pas of sustaining a hidden disenabling fuel aid plan, even when Mr. President had actually competed, prior to presuming workplace, that fuel aid was a determined scam on the treasury!

Lastly, the financial effect of price and output criteria, embraced for government’s major earnings source, and the difficulty of implementing the proposed minimum wage will be briefly considered.

Although, in contrast to earlier Administrations, the present federal government was expected, as an incoming, progressive, administration to tilt financial allowances, substantially, in favour of Capital investment; sadly, nevertheless, PMB’s Administration seems satisfied to sustain the regressive average of 30/70 ratio in between Capital investment and intake costs, despite the apparent truth of our serious infrastructural deficit, in such areas as power, transportation, health and education. Presently, Expenditure on incomes and consumables still receive premium allocation, regardless of the reported elimination of countless ghosts employees and significant cost savings from the adoption of a Treasury Single Account.

Worse still, in the 2018 budget, for instance, just N821bn was up until now released by December, out of the total of N2.87 tn actually allocated Capital expense. Undoubtedly, according to PMB in his budget plan address, “we have rollovered Capital Projects that were not likely to be completely moneyed by Year end 2018 to 2019 spending plan.”

Unfortunately, however, with Mr. President also laying the 2019 budget prior to NASS as late as December 2018, a substantial part of the 2019 capital spending plan, will similarly be continued to 2020 budget plan. Perhaps, nevertheless, if a new administration enters into power, in May 2019, the application of the 2019 budget plan may suffer even worse fate.

Inevitably, the adhoc execution of the Capital budget, certainly creates appealing chances for corruption and distortion in allowance. Subsequently, it will apparently, not be in the interest of federal government beneficiaries to work assiduously towards earlier discussion of yearly budget plans to the National Assembly by 30th June of each year at the current.

Curiously likewise, in spite of, relatively higher crude costs and output considering that 1999, the Naira currency exchange rate continued to depreciate. Indeed, if oil price spirals, once again, even well beyond $100/barrel, the Naira would still diminish versus the dollar as we have actually earlier witnessed; inexplicably, however, even when reserves fortuitously went beyond $60bn, the Naira rate continued to stay challenged, yet, conversely, the Naira stayed stable around N80=$1 between 1994-8, even when, total foreign reserves was barely $4bn!

However, due to the fact that of this plainly incongruent Naira exchange rate system, Nigeria’s significantly bloated annual budgets are ultimately minimized to modest worths when expressed in dollar rates. Subsequently, the 2013 budget plan of N4.99 tn for example, with N160=$1 is most likely more in genuine value than the proposed 2019 spending plan of N8.83 tn with N305=$ currently.

It is clearly unusual that we end up being money strapped and heavily indebted, when about 90%of our foreign reserves, belong to the CBN, which freely auctions and willfully uses these dollar values, while the owner of the CBN, i.e. the Government and Individuals of Nigeria, must pay upto 7%to obtain the very same dollars externally! Do not make me laugh!!!

Especially, likewise, Nigeria’s erstwhile celebrated GDP of about $400bn, decreased by practically $200bn over night, with the collapse of the Naira beyond N305=$1 in 2016; furthermore, Nigeria has also become the World’s Hardship Capital, merely since the related worth index for comparative assessment is generally denominated in US dollars, which inexplicably continues to increase versus the Naira, even when unrefined rate and output spiral and boost forex inflow into our Treasury.

Lately, Nigeria’s debt problem has, especially, almost doubled, much against public expectation, even when budget plan impact on infrastructure still remains intangible. Although, the 2019 spending plan accommodates a financial obligation service fee of about N2.14 tn, i.e. well over 20%of total budget, but, in essence, this is more like 50%of ‘real’ spending plan profits (i.e. without debt).

Undoubtedly, unless the Naira rate, substantially improves versus dollar, it will remain a major challenge to remove aid, and Nigeria’s financial obligation burden will clearly continue to balloon; for instance, if there is substantial deficiency in government income as an outcome unexpected of lower crude rates and output, the requirement for more borrowing to money yearly budgets will likewise become more compelling.

Perhaps, the adoption of N30,000 Base pay, might also not just fuel inflation but will likewise require to be funded with more external debt!

Incidentally, PMB’s government has actually decided to favour ‘cheaper’ external loans, with listed below 10%interest, rather than the more costly rates (in between 14-18%) for domestic borrowing, over which ironically, federal government should expectedly have much better control.

Nonetheless, foreign loans are in fact, just optically less expensive, as unrestrained Naira devaluation overtime would make external loans harder to offset, and this may ultimately begin a new cycle of injustice and neo-colonization.

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