28 December 2018

Nigeria: Presidency Slams Atiku Over Budget Criticisms

The Presidency yesterday slammed the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar over his comment on the 2019 budget proposal of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Atiku had last weekend, issued a statement in which he described Buhari's 2019 budget proposal as fundamentally flawed and failing to address current realities.

Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, in a statement said Atiku went on to identify the said "current realities," which in any case were issues already highlighted in Buhari's budget speech.

"Regrettably, however, Atiku Abubakar offers no substantive and workable solution to the identified "realities". Atiku describes the underlying assumptions of the budget as generous, wild and untenable but does not propose alternative assumptions that would have been more appropriate.

"He argues that the economy is yet to recover from the 2016/2017 recession. Unfortunately, he cannot create his own definition of an economic recession, which is a technical term with a universally applicable meaning. When an economy experiences two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, it is said to be in recession and whenever it returns to positive GDP growth of whatever rate, it is said to have exited recession. It is doubtful if he understands the simple meaning of recession," he said.

He said in Atiku's desperate attempt to rubbish the 2019 budget, he conflated foreign direct investment with capital inflows.

"This is wrong as capital inflows covers foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investments, international borrowing and short-term deposits in money market instruments.

"He complains about movements in foreign portfolio investment which are often volatile and reflect monetary policy normalisation in the United States, meanwhile he is silent on the positive trade surplus mentioned in the budget speech which truly reflects living within our means as a nation," he said.

He said: "It is therefore obvious that Atiku's statement on the budget was a poor attempt at playing to the gallery. Without a doubt, the country faces significant fiscal challenges. The administration of President Buhari understands these challenges, as well as workable solutions thereto.

"The implementation of some of the solutions however needs to be paced and well-timed to avoid dislocating the growth trajectory of the economy. Atiku's criticism of the 2019 budget proposal can best be described as high on populist rhetoric but low on any real solutions to the identified challenges."

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