LEO ALIGWO, Business Editor
Financial and economic experts have urged the executive arm of the government to ensure speedy implementation of the reduced 2016 budget of N6.06 trillion, passed into law by the National Assembly Wednesday.
Aside Commending NASS for the passage of the controversial budget, they also canvassed for reduction in the high cost of governance amidst provision of both basic needs of the people and critical infrastructure to drive the economy.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Champion, a financial analyst, Mr. Ifeanyi Nwabugwu, identified corruption, late preparation of annual budget and its implementation as being among the major bane of the economy.
Consequently, he harped on the need for blockade of financial leakages in the various sectors of the economy as well as entrenching transparency and honesty in the preparation of the nation’s annual budget and its implementation at all levels.
Also reacting to the passage of the budget in a separate interview with our correspondent, a retired banker, Mr. Atilade Swanyer, tasked President Buhari, on thorough implementation of the outcome of the just concluded National Executive Council (NEC) summit on the economy.
Mr. Swanyer strongly challenged the federal government on creation of enabling environment for the operation of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and diversification of the economy to agriculture and other non-oil export.
This he argued, has become more than necessary especially now that the price of oil at the international market has continued to fluctuate, leading to global economic crisis and rising cases of job loss.
“Encouraging the unemployed graduate youths to engage in mechanized farming and provision of loans to the SMEs at reduced interest rate will boost the government’s job creation efforts and minimize crime rate in the society”, he contended.
The expert s’reaction came on the heels of similar charge to the Executive by the Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki, to take the issue of implementation of the budget very serious amidst supporting locally produced goods in a bid to salvage the economy.
A look at the 2016 budget as passed by NASS showed that the overall budget figure is apparently N17 billion less than the initial N6.08 prepared in December 2015 and presented to the NASS by President Buhari.
The upper chamber also adopted all the budget assumptions proposed by President Buhari, just as it retained the $38 per barrel as benchmark as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) N197/$1 exchange rate.
Indeed, the budget as passed by NASS is designed to address the perennial sectoral problems of power, housing and transport infrastructure which attracted allocation of lion’s share of capital votes.
This is even as the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing was allocated highest vote of capital expenditure of N422, 964,928,495. It was followed by the Ministry of Transportation with a vote of N188, 674,679,674 while the Ministry of Defence received the third highest vote of N130, 804,439,942.
Further scrutiny of the budget revealed that the Senate however, reduced the recurrent expenditure upward from the N2, 648,600,000.000 as presented by the President to N1, 587,598,122,031.
It also retained both the N351, 370,000,000 proposed for statutory transfer and a total of N1, 475,320,000,000 earmarked for debt servicing by the Presidency.