Economist Points Out Real Issues In Nigeria’s 2016 Budget
Mr Rewane stressed the need for the lawmakers to accelerate the budget debate and passage to stimulate the Nigerian economy, saying that there was “no time to be wasted playing around with the budget document”.
He made the comments on Wednesday while giving his opinion on the budget debate and shift of the time of passage by the National Assembly.
“Nigerians and the parliamentarians must understand the difference between what is important and what is urgent.
“There is no pure budget document.
“Approve those things that you are comfortable with and the things that you are not comfortable with, throw them back to the ministries to do what they have to do. We cannot afford to wait.
“You have to stimulate this economy into growth,” the economist stressed.
He agreed that some of the details of the budget could be frivolous, but emphasised that the real issues should be the focus of the government.
“The debate at this time should be; is $38 a reasonable and realistic oil benchmark? Is it possible that we can produce 2.2 million barrels of oil per day when our quota is 1.7 and our actual production is 1.8 million? That is almost a 20 per cent deviation from the estimate.
“Is the deficit going to be 2.2 trillion Naira when the price of oil has dropped and our revenue has dropped by 30 per cent? How are we going to fill the gap? Are we going to borrow? If we are going to borrow almost 2.3 trillion, where is the shortfall going to come from? These are the things we should be talking about,” Mr Rewane questioned, pointing out the contentious areas in the budget.
The spokesman for the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Namdas, said that the National Assembly would do its best to ensure that the budget that would be passed would be acceptable to all Nigerians.
He said that timing was not much an issue, explaining that the National Assembly had amended the appropriation of 2015 for the capital expenditure to run till March 31, 2015.
“Even if this budget is passed on 25 February, it will not take effect until first of April. I think we still have time on our hands and we are going to work on that very well.
“On Friday, the session with MDAs [Ministries Department and Agencies] will end and committees will start to meet with the appropriation committee and see how this thing will work,” the lawmaker stated.
He said that the parliament had decided to amend the timing and extend it to March 31 in view of the time that the 2015 appropriation would elapse.