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NECA Panics, Say Delay In 2019 Budget Approval Is A Threat To Foreign Investment

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Delay In 2019 Budget Will Not Help Nigeria’s Economy

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association has decried the recurring delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget, noting that it will affect economic growth and threaten foreign direct investment.

Recall that Naija News had reported how the National Assembly went on recess without touching the 2019 budget during its plenary sessions at the beginning of the year.

NECA, while decrying the development, said the trend was already becoming a culture.

It noted that since 2014, the earliest time the budget was passed was in 2016, and it was in March of that year.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari presented a budget proposal of N8.83tn for 2019 to the National Assembly on December 19 2018. An estimate which is N300bn lower than the N9.1bn budget of the preceding year.

The President said N4.04tn or 50.31 percent was earmarked for recurrent expenditure and N2.03tn, representing 22.98 percent, earmarked for capital projects.

Other estimates are N492.36bn for statutory transfers; N2.14tn for debt servicing and provision of N120bn as a sinking fund. Since then, there seems to be nothing concrete to have been heard concerning the budget.

However, the Director General of NECA, Mr. Timothy Olawale, lamented over the delay in the passage of the national budget, arguing that some other African countries had moved beyond such level.

He added that if truly the country wanted to move onto the track of economic prosperity as soon as possible, then it needed to accord extreme importance to the early passage of the budget.

While he said there had to be a defined time frame, which should be religiously followed as seen in other countries, Olawale advised the executive and legislative arms of the government to shelve the cold war between them in the interest of the nation and work on the budget.

His words:  “The continuous delay in budget passage year on year is worrisome and continues to be a major source of concern for the private sector. The importance of quick passage of the budget cannot be over-emphasized as it plays a very critical role in economic development.

“Looking at the trend from 2014, the earliest time the budget was passed was in 2016 and that was in the month of March. Nigeria’s fiscal year begins in January and ends in December; hence, we cannot begin to imagine the dire consequences of the late passage of the budget on national development and business growth.

“In Ghana, for instance, the budget for the 2019 fiscal year was approved in November 2018. In Ethiopia, the budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year was approved few days before the commencement of the fiscal year in July 2018. Similarly, in Egypt, the budget for their 2018-2019 fiscal year was approved about a month to the commencement of the fiscal year.

“The stability and predictability of the budgetary process of these countries could be one of the reasons why they are becoming the new desired destination for foreign investments.

“For some years now, the process leading to the approval and passing of budget in Nigeria has always been a victim of the proverbial fighting of two elephants. A critical component of the budget such as capital expenditure, which, to a large extent, plays a major role in economic development, suffers. Infrastructural reforms, which are meant to attract investments and improve the lives of the populace, are put on hold and business decisions, which could translate to expansion and employment generation, frustrated.

While advising on the way out, Olawale stated, “If we truly want to get the country on the track of economic prosperity as soon as possible, we need to accord extreme importance to the early passage of the budget. There has to be a defined time frame, which should be religiously followed as seen in other countries. We also urge our lawmakers to give the 2019 budget the utmost importance it requires as budget passage should not suffer at the expense of politics.”

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