Mixed reactions trail 2018 budget proposals
President Muhammadu Buhari’s presentation of the 2018 Appropriation Bill to the Joint Session of the National Assembly yesterday evoked positive and negative reactions.
Some lawmakers hailed the presentation while others expressed discomfort at the timing and procedure.
Senate Committee Chairman on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Kabiru Marafa (APC/Katsina) expressed delight at the budget proposal, saying that the benchmark of crude oil and other indices used in computing the budget were quite realistic considering the price of oil today.
Marafa also commended the resolve by the government to move away from over-dependence on oil.
Senator Mathew Urhogide (PDP/Edo) faulted the presentation of the budget when the lawmakers were yet to consider and approve the MTEF, stressing that the projections in the budget presented ought to have emanated from thorough deliberations by the parliament.
Senator Sani Yerima (APC/Zamfara) said the President took his time to give details of the budget proposal.
On the vexed issue of presenting a budget without an approved MTEF, Yerima admitted that it was an issue of procedure, but said that the lawmakers had decided to handle both documents together.
Commenting on the 2018 budget proposals, Principal Consultant, Henates and Associates, Mr. Henry Atenaga, said his worry was that only N2.4 trillion was set aside for capital spending in the N8.6 trillion budget.
Similarly, the Chief Executive Officer, BudgIT, Mr. Seun Onigbinde, expressed concern over the poor state of budget implementation in the country.
Describing the nation’s annual budgets as “contract vending machine,” rather than a “planning document”, Onigbinde pointed out that the 2017 budget has been very poorly implemented, having been signed in May.
The Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said that the N8.6 trillion budget for 2018 is realistic and achievable.
He said the budget, which was based on an exchange rate of N305 to the dollar, and a projected oil output of 2.3 million barrels per day at an assumed price of $45 per barrel is not a bogus one.
He said it will help reposition the economy if well implemented.
He noted, however, that for the budget to be achievable, it requires assiduous implementation and monitoring by the economic stakeholders.
Managing Director, Crane Securities Limited, Mr. Mike Eze, who also agreed that the budget will be realistic, noted that it is commendable as the 2018 budget was presented in order to run a normal budget cycle of January to December.
“We hope the government will get it right this time to consolidate the economy,” he said.
President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Olusola Teniola, said the budget is balanced, considering the fact that the country is just coming out of recession.
The Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, expressed optimism that the 2018 budget would cater to the needs of Nigerians.
Oyegun, however, assured Nigerians that the period of hardship would be over and everyone would be better for it.
“The 2018 budget proposal presented by President Muhammadu Buhari was well received, we are all happy. The side attraction is that the President has demonstrated his determination to move the country forward.
“We are rebuilding the nation’s economy. The economy collapsed, oil price collapsed, everything is as if it is starting afresh. It takes time and it creates a lot of hardship,” he said.