BUDGET OF CHANGE

How I wish the APC understands the trepidation that the slogan of change now brings to people whenever mentioned… (smiles). However, I observed changes in figures and more mentioned promises of change. To the best of my intellectual strength, I will deliver constructive analysis of the budget, in such a way that anyone would understand. Nigerians must learn to involve in the happenings of their government.

6.08 Trillion Naira for a population of 170 million people is not a bad idea. Brazil in 2015 fiscal year had about 4.7 Trillion Naira for a population of 200 million people. Hence in comparative sense, Nigeria is set to be at an advantage over Brazil and must utilise its higher budget for a lesser population in toppling the applauded economy of Brazil which is the 7th largest in the world by nominal GDP and having a Trillion dollar general GDP. Thus, we would accept no excuses.

Some persons are of the opinion that the budget is an unrealistic one. Though they might be right given present economic realities but I believe if Nigerians decide to hold the government at the throat without iota of fear,  merged with willful commitment of government and stern accountability of public officers, we can realise above 50% of the assertions of the budget.

The budget is already a deficit one given a lower projected revenue amounting to 2.22 trillion naira deficit. This apparently implies that this money must be borrowed and interests would ensue. I have no issue with this only if it will be utilised appropriately to yield returns back to the government via improved GDP, reserves and per capita income. Thereby becoming a good debt and not in such manner of mortgaging future generations. Of course,  America’s debt stands at over 70 trillion naira and it is still a pinnacle nation.

The addition of domestic and foreign borrowings that should be used to finance the deficit stand at 1.84 trillion Naira. If you take away this figure from the total deficit, you will have about 0.38 trillion Naira left. How should this remaining part be catered for?

The oil bench mark for this budget is at $38 per barrel. With the present oil bench mark at less than $40 per barrel, how feasible will this be in this fiscal year save to global oil market and price framework? The projected exchange rate of 190 naira to the dollar is largely deceitful when we currently have 280 naira to the dollar at the parallel market. Therefore, with these faulty precedents upon which the budget is built, aren’t we going to have a repeat of what happened in the 2015 fiscal year that even brought about the subsidy non-payment issue?

The fact that this budget is still built round oil ideologies, spells little thought given to diversification of the economy. Other non-oil revenues with independent revenues do not bear diversification as a core feature. They are mainly receipts, payments and interests.

The increase in capital expenditure with education having the highest share is a great step. There are gigantic promises made to the education sector. I really doubt if social welfare or special intervention funds would be used to address these promises. The possibility of a conflict might loom in implementation and dispensation if questions are not asked early enough.

The newly promised scholarship is quite selective but applauding. This selective principle to three faculty related courses might lead to the detriment of some other areas. “Free education” is a promise that must not be toiled with. I see no reason why a presentation of something as technical as a budget should become a platform for new campaign promises. However, it has been said and so it must be fulfilled beginning from 1st January, 2016.

It was said that data is currently being collated regarding the poorest in Nigeria that would benefit from the 5000# promise. For the purpose of democracy, Nigerians should ask how and where is this collation being done, so that we can refer the poorest that we know to the site. If this is not done, it then means ghosts would be the beneficiaries. Of course you understand the implication.

In the final words of Mr. Buhari on that day, he for the first time spoke hopeful but I must say that it is now too late. He can only regain confidence via tangible results.

Finally, no budget can bear the name “budget of change”. The government of the day must be careful with that word. Alfred Adler said “hope is the foundational quality of all change”. Nigerians have been made to believe hopelessly the hopeless situation of the country both for the now and for tomorrow. It only takes a bigger hope that will define “progressive change as a progressive price in tangible developmental terms” to correct the hurt they are going through right now.

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