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Experts Canvass Early Implementation Of 2020 Budget

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Economic and investment experts have called on the federal government to begin the immediate implementation of the 2020 budget, especially its capital component to maximise the gains of its early passage.

They said that the prompt passage of the budget by  the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to it should challenge the government to implement it within the financial year. The experts added that the government should deploy the needed strategies – including borrowing – to access financing for the deficit side of the budget to build time-bound projects such as roads, bridges and other priority infrastructure.

In an interview yesterday, the chief responsibility officer, Value Investing Limited, Seye Adetunmbi, told LEADERSHIP that “it is strategic to step up the implementation in earnest those aspects of the budget that would have timely-measured impact on the national economy such that the average Nigerians could experience progress in their standard of living.”

Adetunmbi urged President Buhari to set targets/deadlines for ministers, who he charged to meet the minimum expectations quarterly in terms of deliverables and results.

“The government should take full advantage of the oil price that has shut up to $70+ per barrel due to the recent development in Iran,” Adetunmbi said, adding that “this is above the benchmark for the 2020 budget.”

He stated that the extent to which the ‘oil windfall’ will make meaningful impact on the people depends on the prudential appropriation of this fund. If the political will is there with all sincerity, Buhari administration can do better.”

Also, a professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, Akpan Hogan Ekpo, said that the infrastructure component of the budget should be given priority, particularly, the power sector. Prof. Ekpo said: “Infrastructural development would generate employment,” noting that unemployment and underemployment had gone beyond the crisis level (about 42 per cent).

He said that the “urgent release of funds for the execution of abandoned and new infrastructural projects (hard and soft) should take top priority.

“Steps should be taken by the social investment programmes in order to reduce the hardship of the people. A conducive and secure environment is important for businesses and winning the trust and confidence of the Nigerian people. Thus, releasing funds for tackling insecurity in the country is also essential,” Ekpo said.

Prof. Ekpo stressed the need for continuous monitoring and evaluation of the projects being executed. According to him, “quarterly progress report is crucial if the government is to maximise the gains of the early passage of the budget. By monitoring and evaluation, I mean physical presence and use of independent stakeholders. Timely release of funds – this means reducing the bureaucratic process for making funds available.”

The federal government said that the budget is designed for fiscal consolidation and to strengthen the nation’s macroeconomic environment; investing in critical infrastructure, human capital development and enabling institutions, especially key job creating sectors.

The experts further said that state governments which are determined to make significant economic impacts should employ strategies that will enhance the successful implementation of their budgets.

The thinking is that the effective monitoring of the implementation of the key aspects of the state budgets would impact on employment and wealth creation with multiplier effects on the wellbeing of most Nigerians.

An aggregate expenditure of N10.7 trillion was approved by the National Assembly and signed into by President Buhari in December last year. The budget has N2.14 trillion for capital expenditure (excluding the capital component of statutory transfers). Debt service is estimated at N2.45 trillion.

The minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said that the federal government is keen on reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practices; introducing tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets, while incentivising private sector investment essential to complement government’s development plans, policies and programmes.

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