Why National Assembly need to pass 2019 budget in March

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National Assembly Complex

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, presented a budget proposal of N8.83 trillion for 2019 before a joint session of the National Assembly. The proposed budget is 3 percent lower than the N9.12trn Appropriation for last year. The 2019 budget, according to the president, is aimed at diversifying the economy and lifting significant numbers of the citizens from the present socio-economic challenges.

President  Buhari while presenting the budget, gave an overview of the implementation of the N9.12 trillion 2018 budget. He said that 67 per cent performance had so far been recorded by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

According to him, out of the total appropriation of N9.12trillion, N4.59 trillion had been spent by September 30, 2018, against the prorated expenditure target of N6.84 trillion.

He said: “This represents 67 per cent performance. Debt service and the implementation of non-debt recurrent expenditure, notably payment of workers’ salaries and pensions are on track.

“Despite the delay in the passage of the 2018 Budget on June 20, 2018, the sum of N820.57 billion had been released for capital projects as at December 14, 2018. We have carried over capital projects that were not likely to be fully funded by year-end 2018 to the 2019 budget.”

Since 1999, no government in Nigeria has implemented the budget up to 95%. This trend has had damaging effects on the country’s economy. The Nigerian economy depends on government’s budget to function properly. The private sector particularly needs to see government direction to plan and execute their plans.

So, early passage of budget helps in this regard. The private sector is the major participant in the capital market. Growth enhancing activities in the capital market are negatively affected by the delay in passing the budget.

The passage of federal budget in good time, has the capability of promoting economic growth, assisting private sector for optimal business performance, as well as energising money and capital market activities. It would also promote planning in the lower levels of governments and the private sector.

Delay in the passage of the budget is highly injurious to economic growth and development.Budget sends signals to stockbrokers and other investment advisers on the sectors to watch and where to raise red flags annually. This enables them to advise their clients on taking positions and reviewing their portfolios accordingly.

At macro level, early passage of the budget implies prompt implementation of capital projects. This is critical to the growth of the economy as it has impact on growing the Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

Unfortunately, it has become a recurring decimal for members of the executive and the legislature  to enmesh the budget in controversy, which often times, causes delay in its passage.

For our budget to make meaning and drive economic activities, the executive and legislature need to have a re-think and restore the nation’s fiscal year to January and December. In the last 11 years, the only year the budget was approved early was in 2013, February 26, because that was the earliest time the budget was submitted on Oct. 10, 2012.

Nigeria’s economic growth is well below the population growth.  At the end of the last quarter of 2018, our population growth, stood at 2.7 per cent while the economic growth is just 1.93 per cent. So,   no amount of economic boost could easily be seen or noticed in such a situation, which is why early passage of the 2019 budget is imperative.

The country has borrowed well over N10.2 trillion in the last three years and this money is meant for infrastructure development and some of these projects are expected to be completed in 2019.So, a delay, will hamper the completion of these projects and disastrous to the country’s economy.

We urge the lawmakers to expedite action for the speedy passage of the budget.  The legislature should   partner the executive arm of government for the benefit of Nigerians. The country’s economy cannot afford another rout of delays that will render damaging impacts on the economy and the citizenry.

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