Nigeria: LCCI, Experts Say Nigerians Should Expect Less From 2020 Budget

11 December 2019

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has described the 2020 budget passed by the National Assembly as not only dysfunctional, but one designed to fail as well.

In an exclusive response to Daily Trust inquiry on the budget, the president of the chamber, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, said many items that are in the budget are not performing but kept reoccurring year in year out.

"The major problem is that the entire structure, framework and mechanism for implementation of budget in the country is defective and lacks the capacity to impact positively on the country. Go and take the provisions of the budget and you will know that most of the items are very fake. Priorities are also misplaced," he said.

The ACCI boss said many capital projects are not contained in the budget as it was "designed to fail and will not help the country."

He said the sad thing was that they continued to use a framework that has continued to fail over the years.

Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Muda Yusuf stressed the need for Nigerians, at a time like this, to ensure moderation in their expectations of the budget implementation.

According to him, growth is still fragile and revenue improvement prospects are dim.

"Yet we need revenue to ensure effective budget implementation."

"We are still grappling with numerous vulnerabilities at micro and macro levels. The policy and regulatory environments are as important as the budget appropriations, and perhaps even more important," he said.

He described the timely passage of the budget by the National Assembly as laudable, saying, it will impact positively on budget implementation and the timely delivery of the expected outcomes from the budget.

The LCCI boss also said that the timely passage will reduce uncertainty which, in the past, was experienced by stakeholders impacted directly by the budget.

Also reacting to the budget passage, the Director-General of Nigeria Employers' Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Timothy Olawale, commended the National Assembly for the prompt passage of the 2020 budget.

He said:" It signals the return to the January- December budget cycle in the life of the nation. We urge that this process would be finalised and the Appropriation Bill passed into law before 1st January, 2020.

"The budget is ambitious on the side of recurrent expenditures as the payment of the new minimum wage and servicing of public debt, which has become bourgeoning, became critical factors. Although the capital vote is about 24% of the total budget, its effect will only be felt with timely implementation. "

Speaking further, Mr. Olawale stated that "the budget assumptions - crude oil production, 2.18mbpd; crude oil price benchmark, US$55.00; exchange rate, N305:US$1; GDP growth rate, 2.93% - are understandably conservative compared to previous budget estimates."

But experts are excited by Nigeria's imminent return to the January-December budget cycle following the passage of the 2020 budget by the National Assembly on Thursday.

The immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said in a statement that he was delighted that the alignment between the 9th Assembly (in its first budget outing) with the Executive was poised to return the country to the January to December fiscal year.

Udoma pointed out that given the procurement process, for a budget which starts running in June or July, there might have been little or no capital releases by September, hence, the need to return to the January-December cycle.

Similarly, an Abuja-based industrialist, Dr. Stephen Umena, told Daily Trust that the timely passage of the budget was unprecedented and a boost to the economy.

Dr. Umena, who is also an economist, said the possible return to January-December budget cycle would increase the percentage of the yearly total budget implementation.

Early passage of the 2020 budget is a "wonderful development" which aims to return the country to the January-December budget implementation circle that would help companies and individuals in planning, an economist, Dr. Austin Nweze has said.

Nweze of the Pan Atlantic University (PAU), Ibeju-Lekki told Daily Trust that the development would also afford Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) time to plan for the next fiscal year.

The economist however advised the federal government to support the implementation with the required cash backing to realize the projects in the budget.

He said the early passage of the budget would be meaningless if monies were not released to MDAs as and when due.

Nweze however expressed fear in the implementation of the budget owing to the huge debt burden, adding, "when you have too much debt budget, it weighs down other things. Every other thing suffers except the monies borrowed are used to fund infrastructures that would yield more revenues to pay back the debts."

Traders place high expectations on 2020 budget

Some traders in Utako Modern Market in Abuja have expressed disappointment over this year's budget.

They have however said they expect the coming year, 2020, to be better than the previous.

A trader, Mr Murtala Lawal said: "I expect that 2020 budget should be implemented in a way that will favour Nigerians, especially the poor masses. Because many at times our leaders just pass the budget without putting the poor masses into consideration.

"The 2020 budget should cover all areas. It should fund quality education in schools, especially government owned schools because the poor masses, even with the little education, they have cannot fit into the society, and this is so because the quality of education in public schools is very bad," he said.

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