Sunday, 5 November 2017
Why 2018 budget is threatened, by lawmakers
This is the opinion of national lawmakers, Senator Foster Ogola (PDP Bayelsa West), and member of the House of Representatives, Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, who represents Egor/Ikpoba-Okha Federal Constituency OF Edo State, and Deputy Chairman of the House committee on Appropriation, Chris Azubogu.
According to Ogola, “The implementation of 2015, 2016 and 2017 budgets have been poor because of the burden that comes with them. Where you prepare a budget of N4trn and 50 per cent is to be funded from loans not yet secured, you can imagine what happens. The lender always has superior hand. And if you don’t meet his conditions, he won’t lend. So, you won’t have enough money to fund the budget.
“Nigeria played with Niger Delta by going there with Python Dance, Crocodile Smile and bombing of oil installations and youth camps, which damaged revenue base. No matter the effectiveness of the Federal Inland Revenue Services, it cannot achieve budget estimates to fund a national budget, which is funded with foreign exchange. And once you stop exporting maximally, your balance of payment cannot be achieved. And so, no country will sell anything to you to implement your budget,” he stated.
Ogola added that, “The Federal Government said it is making peace with Niger Delta, yet the military went there last month to do Operation Crocodile Smile without any provocation. You can see why the national budget is failing. This year, maximum implementation of the capital budget is 10 per cent. The recurrent budget is hardly 40 per cent. And that is because salaries must be paid. But how many people are being paid full dues?
On his part, Agbonayinma, who said the uproar over the resolve by President Muhammadu Buhari to present the 2018 budget proposal to the National Assembly on Tuesday had to do with his colleagues’ displeasure with the shoddy implementation of the 2017 budget.
Blaming the cabal within the Presidency for the poor budget implementation, he said every effort must be made to put the country’s interest above every other interest.
“I think the issue is about putting Nigeria first. Unfortunately, there are some cabal within the executive, who are not working for the interest of this nation; who are trying to reduce the wheel of progress of Mr. President. Since we passed the 2017 budget it has not been fully implemented, not even to the point where Nigerians can see dividends of democracy and we are talking about 2018 budget, when 2017 budget has been left idle.
“Lawmakers are concerned because we all represent our various constituencies, we can feel the pains and agony of our people across the nation. And by now, even our constituency projects have not been implemented. Where do we go from here? Any budget proposal that is passed into law must be followed to the letter in order to make sure that the budget reflects the concerns of all Nigerians.
Azubogu lamented the late submission of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF-FSP), adding that it is yet to be considered by his committee and other committees of the House.
He assured that the National Assembly would not in anyway rubber stamp the 2018 budget, stressing that it would be duly worked on in the interest of the country.