Senate President Bukola Saraki yesterday said the plan by the executive to rollover 50 per cent of this year’s capital projects will cause the 2018 budget to shoot N10tr.
This year’s N7.4tr budget was assented to on June 12 by then acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Saraki made this statement during the consideration of the report of the Senate joint committee on Appropriations and Finance on the implementation of 2017 budget.
“If you are talking about 50 per cent (capital project), it means that you are talking about N10tr budget next year.
I hope the executive will take note of this,” he said.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma had on Tuesday during a meeting on the implementation of the 2017 budget informed the Senate of the intention of the executive to rollover 60 per cent of this year’s capital projects to next year.
At the same forum, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, also blamed the inability of the executive to fund the 2017 budget on the delay in the approval of the foreign loan request by the National Assembly.
Saraki however said there was no such request before the Senate.
He said: “Let me also clarify this because I was involved by the Chairman of Appropriations; that when the Minister of Finance came, she suggested that there were some requests before us on external borrowing.
“I just want to make it clear that there is no request on external borrowing that has not been acted upon. It must be that the letters have not left the Executive to come to us.
“If you remember, at the end of last session – on the last day, we treated requests from the states and those on the railways. There are no pending requests from Mr. President or, when he was away, from the Acting President on external loan.”
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday urged the executive not to embark on selective implementation of the 2017 budget under the guise of completing priority projects,” because it will offend the spirit of the Appropriation Act”.
The call was sequel to the adoption of the report of the joint committee on Appropriations and Finance on the implementation of the 2017 budget presented by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe).
“Much as there is need to work with the Executive to return to a predictable January – December budget circle, this should be done without sacrificing up to 60% of a full year capital budget in one full-swoop.
“We encourage the executive to ensure that all MDAs are properly captured in IPPIS and all employments are properly approved and budgeted for.
“That the use of operating surplus of internally generated revenue of government owned enterprises like Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and others in funding the National Budget should be properly explored.
“The Executive should be encouraged to block all leakages of operational surpluses of MDAs,” the report said.
Experts express cautious optimism
Experts have said that a N10 trillion budget for 2018, if spent on infrastructure and critical areas, will not only boost the economy, but raise the infrastructure stock of the country as well. They however wondered where the money will be sourced from.
Speaking to Daily Trust yesterday, a senior research fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), Adedeji Peter Adeniran, said though he was worried about how the federal government would finance the budget, if it is spent on the nation’s priorities, the economy would be positively impacted.
“If they spend those monies well to build much of the infrastructures that are lacking currently, especially in terms of investments and capital expenditures, one positive thing we can gain from it is that our economy will be more robust, faster growth and long term growth will also be impacted,” he said.
He expressed worry that financing budgets in the country has been a very huge challenge due to dwindling oil revenues.
“It is positive when government increases it to N10 trillion. We can spend more and at least increase our capital expenditure but if we are going into borrowing, we need to ask what our priority in that instance is,” he said.
The expert said data show that Nigeria is almost financing 30 to 35 per cent of 2017 budget in deficit, and this implies the country is borrowing to finance the budget.
“If that is true, I don’t know how we are going to finance N10 trillion budget for next year. My worry is the financing part of it rather than the size of the budget,” he said.
He warned that the bulk of the budget should not be sunk into recurrent expenditure as that will not be sustainable.
Also speaking to Daily Trust, the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Uke Ubiji, said the N10 trillion budget will have positive cumulative impact on the economy.
“By cumulative impact, I mean it will have impact in the area of employment generation, poverty alleviation and so on,” he said.
He urged the government to pay attention to small and medium enterprises in the budget in order to empower them and open up the window of employment opportunities for Nigerians.
He, however, expressed concern that at the moment, government at both the federal and state levels are the highest debtors to banks.
Source: Daily Trust