By Cecilia Ologunagba
Aminu Usman says that the Federal Government’s N7.30 trillion budget proposal for 2017 is achievable if the government can resolve the challenge of pipeline vandalism in the Niger-Delta.
Usman, a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Kaduna State University told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that the crisis in the region may affect the budget implementation.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari was optimistic about the budget proposal which he presented before a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday.
NAN reports that the president said that N2.24 trillion, representing 30.7 per cent of the 2017 budget, would be committed to capital expenditure, aimed at pulling the economy out of recession as quickly as possible.
Buhari said the capital expenditure was increased from N1.8 trillion in 2016 to N2.24 trillion in 2017.
The president also announced N2.98 trillion as recurrent expenditure for the 2017 fiscal year.
He said, having reviewed the trends in the global oil industry, the government had decided to set a benchmark price of 42.5 dollars per barrel and a production estimate of 2.2 million barrels per day for 2017 fiscal year.
“How would the government achieve the 2.2 million per barrel, with the Niger Delta crisis not yet resolved?
“I think it is too open, considering the fact that the major source of funding the budget will come from oil export.
“Looking at the proposal, the capacity of government implementing N7. 30 trillion is also in question.
“The real sense of what government is doing is to actually increase the quantum of the budget by factoring in inflation caused by depreciation of the currency.
“We had N6 trillion budget in 2016 and 7.30 trillion in 2017. People shouldn’t expect much difference in the implementation with the current economic realities,’’ he said.
According to him, the 2016 budget implementation has been very slow.
He, however, advised the government to ensure early submission of budget.
Usman said that the timing of the submission of budget – December- was wrong since the National Assembly would soon go on break.
“ We will see the passage of 2017 budget coming around May next year, so we see statement of intention by the government but the implementation may be difficult,’’ the don said.
NAN reports that the aggregated revenue available to fund the 2017 budget was N4.94 trillion, 28 per cent higher than the 2016 budget.
The oil was projected to contribute N1.99 trillion of the amounts and non-oil revenue would be contributing N1.73 trillion.
The 2017 budget, tagged “Budget of Recovery and Growth”, was higher than the 2016 N6.08 trillion Appropriation by about 19.95 per cent.