Despite the threat and deployment of thousands of armed security personnel to stop the protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) against the mass sack of teachers and other workers allegedly numbering over 36,000, the protesters still took their protest to Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House.
The protesters, led by the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, and other labour leaders from across the states, marched through the Independence Road, through Wharf Road and Ali Akilu Road and made their way to the government house in their thousands, carrying placards with varying inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs.
Meanwhile, the heavily armed security personnel, who had assembled at the entry points to the NLC secretariat, Kaduna, venue of the takeoff point of the rally, hurriedly moved to the gate of the government house apparently to prevent the protesters from gaining access to the government house.
Earlier, the NLC president had stressed that the organised labour would not relent in its efforts at ensuring that the rights of their members are protected in the state.
Meanwhile, some allegedly sponsored thugs were said to have been apprehended by the security personnel on their way to the Kaduna NLC secretariat.
Late Passage Hinders Effective Implementation Of 2017 Budget – Experts
..As Presidency seeks quick passage of 2018 budget
By solomon ayado, Mbakaan kwen, Abuja And KAYODE TOKEDE, Lagos
With the disbursement of N1.2 trillion on capital expenditure from the N2.2 trillion appropriated in 2017 budget, finance experts have blamed the late passage of the 2017 on poor performance, lamenting inadequate release of funds for the capital components of the budget.
They maintained that recurrent expenditure is expected to be fully met, while the implementation of the capital component of the 2017 budget remains a challenged. Barely six months after the 2017 budget was passed into the law, the federal government released N1.2 trillion for capital expenditure as at December 2017, nearly 55 per cent of the N2.2 trillion that was signed into law.
The federal government signed into law, the 2017 budget on June and that was when the capital budget started running; unlike the recurrent side that started at the beginning of the year. The National Assembly had passed the 2017 Appropriation Bill which has a total amount of N7. 44trillion with N2.2 trillion for capital projects
Details of the bill had shown that 30 per cent or N2.2 trillion was allocated to capital expenditure, while recurrent expenditure (non-debt) and debt service received N2.987 trillion and N1.84 trillion respectively. Key benchmark of the 2017 budget include Oil Price at $42.5 per barrel; Oil Production at 2.2 million barrels/day; foreign exchange rate at N305/$1; inflation at 12.92 per cent and Gross Domestic Growth of about 2.5 per cent.
President Buhari’s administration disbursed N336 billion in the first quarter of 2017 for capital projects as released by the Ministry of Finance. Before the end of 2017, the FG disbursed N750 billion for capital expenditure to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, had said, “Last year, we released N1.3 trillion of capital and so far this year we have released N450 billion and we will release another N750 billion and this will take the release to N1.2 trillion by the end of the year.”
In spite of the late passage of the 2017 Budget, implementation remains on track. Certain extraneous factors were responsible for the perceived poor implementation of the 2017 Budget by some groups.
Foremost among the factors is that the budget was affected by the late passage of the 2017 Appropriation Bill; but this affected only the Capital aspect of the budget, as statutory transfers, recurrent expenditures and debt service have been fully met in line with the budget.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, an economist, Professor Uche Uwaleke, said the implementation of capital component in 2017 contributed to the positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP), urging government to be proactive in its implementation of the capital expenditure.
According to him, “No doubt, the implementation of the capital component in 2017, although left much to be desired, contributed to the positive GDP growths witnessed in the second and third quarters of the year after five quarters of negative growths in a row.
“Economic growth remains weak amidst high unemployment rate which calls for a more vigorous and proactive approach to the implementation of capital expenditure. We may not get to know the actual execution status of the 2017 budget till the Budget Office publishes the full year budget implementation report” he said.
He explained further that “unlike the case of recurrent expenditure which was nearly fully met, the implementation of the capital component of the 2017 budget was largely challenged not only by the late passage of the Budget but also the shortfall in expected oil and non-oil revenue receipts especially government independent revenue.
“Another contributing factor seems to be the extension of the 2016 capital budget to May, 2017 which put on hold the execution of the 2017 capital budget till the end of the second quarter of the 2017” Uwaleke added.
Research analyst, Pan- African Capitals Plc, Mr. Moses Ojo, explained that the level of 2017 budget implementation was low as planned by fg, blaming the last passage on the national assembly. In his words, “to me, I think 2017 budget may not be fully implemented simply because we decided to revise to January- December 2018 budget year.
“The National Assembly has pushed the 2018 budget till March and shifted the implementation of 2017 budget till May. Meaning that 2018 budget will not start until around June – we are back to square one. In my view, the level of 2017 implementation was not impressive. For recurrent expenditure, it will be over 100 per cent implemented. We are having issue with the capital expenditure which is not good for our economy going forward” Ojo averred.
Although recently, the Senate went in for a fresh battle with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on federal government’s insistence on passing the 2018 Budget in January because the 2017 budget was poorly implemented.
But Head research, Afrinvest (WA) limited, Mr. Robert Omotunde, explained that the appropriated N7.44 trillion 2017 budget is backed by Nigeria constitution and government can continue to spend. He said late passage has always been a challenge to the budget.
According to him, “the constitution always spending even though we are in 2018 before a new budget kicks in. about N2.2trillion was budget in 2017 and N1.2 trillion has been spent, which is a fair performance. The good part is that some of the 2017 spending has been carried over to 2018.
Adeosun had claimed the ministry achieved 64per cent budget performance in 2017 when other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were nearly scratching below 40 per cent. But she further noted the ministry was working to raise all the MDAs to 50per cent performance before the end of the year.
On the expenditure side, the minister said that out of the N7.44 trillion for the year under review, N5.58 was supposed to have been spent at the end of the third quarter and N4.87 (87 per cent) was actually spent within the period.
“However, capital spending was not as impressive. N720 billion was budgeted to be spent at the end of third quarter of the annual budget of N2.7 trillion. However, only N320 billion had been spent on capital projects at the end,” she stated.
Reacting on the negative effect on the economy and infrastructure development, the managing director, Highcap Securities Limited, Mr David Adnori, in a telephone chat with LEADERSHIP, said the late implementation of capital spending is weighing on infrastructure deficit in the country. He said the level of 2017 budget implementation is low compared to the government plan, which means the fg plans was unrealistic.
“When capital budget is under implemented, there will be infrastructure deficit in the economy and so many developments will remain unattended to which is severe for the nation’s economy,” he said.
A statement from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, said the amount released so far for Capital spend is almost equivalent to the total Capital release for the 2016 Budget which ran for complete 12 calendar months.
Meanwhile, the Presidency this morning appealed to the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the 2018 budget for the delivery of dividends of democracy to Nigerians.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha made the appeal when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, chaired by Tijjani Yahaya Kaura for budget defence.
He told the lawmakers that the federal government only has a month to deliver on its electoral promises.
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