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Budget GDP, oil output targets unrealistic -Expert

UGO AMADI

A financial expert, Dr Uche Uwaleke, has said the Federal Government Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure of 3.5 per cent and oil output benchmark of 2.3 million barrels per day in the 2018 budget were unrealistic.

Uwaleke, the Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi,  who said this recently, stated that the proposed GDP growth figure and oil output benchmark appeared ambitious going by the present realities.

Uwaleke said oil output would depend on the level of peace in the Niger Delta region.

According to him, this can only be achieved through continuous engagement with the stakeholders from the region.

He, however, said the crude oil price benchmark of 45 dollars per barrel was realistic judging from forecasts by the U.S Energy Information Administration. Uwaleke added that the crude oil benchmark was achievable on the back of current strong crude oil demand, reduced oil drilling activities in the U.S and output cut agreement between OPEC, Russia and other non-oil producing countries.

“The exchange rate of N305 to the dollar is in line with the government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and I also think it is in order,” he said.

Uwaleke added that the inflation target of 12.4 per cent was realistic considering the fact that headline inflation had been trending downwards since February 2017, partly on account of improved liquidity in the foreign market and stability in exchange rate.

The financial expert also stressed the need for early passage of the budget to achieve the desired result in the interest of the economy.

President Muhammadu Buhari on November 7 in Abuja presented about N8.612 trillion as the 2018 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly, saying the projected expenditure would drive rapid economic recovery.

The budget was 16 per cent higher than 2017 and is based on projected oil output, including condensates of 2.3 million barrels a day at 45 dollars per barrel, using an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.

The government forecast economic growth of 3.5 per cent in 2018. He said the government would continue to develop infrastructure and increase investments in agriculture to attain food security and reduce importation.

He added that while the Federal Government was committed to identifying alternative means of funding new projects, there was the need to continue to pursue public private partnership to provide more infrastructures in the country

For a better society.

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