Buhari’s Last Budget: Matters arising — New Telegraph Editorial

Posted by News Express | 17 October 2022 | 306 times

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•President Buhari

Two Fridays ago, President Muhammadu Buhari presented his last Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja.

The value of the budgetary estimate was put at N20.5 trillion, with security getting the highest allocation of N1.35 trillion with the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces consisting of the Nigeria Army, Air Force and Navy as the greatest beneficiaries.

The sum of N300 billion is for the revitalisation of the nation’s public universities while another N170 billion is earmarked for the salary re-negotiation of the personnel of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions. New Telegraph commends President Buhari for presenting his last Budgetary Estimate on time so as to help sustain the January to December cycle.

But the Appropriation Bill raises bewildering concerns. One of them is that its value is N20.5 trillion. Sadly, the cash backing with regard to the Budgetary Estimate is minimal.

The sum of N8.8 trillion is to be sourced through borrowing thereby making the 2023 Appropriation Bill hugely-deficit one. Fifty-five percent of the Appropriation Bill is devoted to debt-servicing.

The budgetary allocation of N2 billion for the establishment of an academy for EFCC is yet another source of concern. We regret to state that the 2023 Appropriation Bill is fraught with hitches that would help make it a poorly-implemented economic blueprint.

The continued borrowing spree, which the Budgetary Estimate encourages, would further prolong Nigeria’s stay in stormy economic waters, where loans are sourced from foreign. countries

The benefactor-nations may, in line with the dictates of loan diplomacy, utilise the instrument and power of credit to ensure their economic growth and developments such countries seem to be in the habit of declining to receive cash for repayment but settling to be repaid with natural endowments for a reasonable number of years.

Under such circumstances the benefactor countries would storm Nigeria to explore and exploit petroleum and solid mineral deposits thereby making profound gains. The resort of Nigeria to the option of borrowing by what is commonly referred to as Ways and Means would even come with more catastrophic consequences.

Ways and Means is a form of borrowing that is not backed up by value or productivity. But rather it entails the mere printing and injection of new notes into circulation. A certain fall-out from such fiscal and monetary policy blunders is almost irredeemable inflation as more currency notes would be chasing limited products and services.

We urge President Buhari to quickly do a re-alignment of national priorities. President Buhari should appreciate the merits in a decentralised security arrangement and refrain from obstructing the actualisation of the state security outfits.

All the state security outfits should be given approval to acquire and bear arms in order to prevent abuse, as has been observed with regard to the federally-controlled security agencies. Professional bodies’ pressure groups and other responsible Non- Governmental Organisation (NGOs) should be made to send representatives for the formation of controlling agencies for the state security outfits.

Once this is achieved, the FG would be discouraged from frittering away much of the nation’s financial resources on the fight against insecurity. A downward review of the salaries and other privileges of all political officeholders, including security votes, would help put enough funds at the disposal of the FG for the improved funding of not only the education but also health, transportation, agricultural housing and manufacturing sectors.

New Telegraph notes with displeasure that even when President Buhari has received countless knocks for increasing the cost of governance by appointing many aides and creating additional Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), presenting a Budgetary Estimate that provides for the setting-up of an EFCC academy should not be a priority.

Since EFCC could be said to be one of the many agencies that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) helped give birth to, the Police Academy, in Kano should be mandated to offer training to the EFCC personnel. New Telegraph recommends that the petroleum, railway, mining, electricity and other sectors be subjected to decentralisation so as to take the burden off the fragile and overburdened shoulders of the FG.

This would not only help save money for her but also lead to a reduction in the frequency of borrowing which has become embarrassing and is often referenced in the comity of nations as an exhibition of visionless governance. It would equally lead to effective and efficient service delivery in the referred sectors.

While New Telegraph urges FG not to establish additional MDAs, we will not hesitate to advocate that it goes ahead to strengthen some of the strategic but low revenue generating public outfit’s through more realistic policy formulation. Sadly in this classification is the NIPOST, which has been given a paltry budgetary allocation of N10 billion to upgrade its facilities across the 774 local government areas of the country.

A situation whereby every public outfit is made a high revenue- generating entity would help purge the Executive Organ of Government of habitual borrowing as each MDA would have become self- sustaining. This should be President Buhari’s farewell gift to Nigerians, in an administration that has more deficits than pluses.

Source: News Express

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