Finance and economic experts have expressed mixed feelings on the 2018 budget, citing the structure of the budget and poor history of budget approval and implementation.
Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Muda Yussuf, said the allocation of about 30 per cent of the budget to capital projects is commendable, noting that capital budget had once been as low as 15 per cent.
According to him, recurrent expenditure cannot be suddenly reduced because of personnel cost as the army, education sector, hospitals and others need to be adequately funded in a bid to achieve the aim of a better country.
“The fact that you have the budget structure at 30.8 per cent capital, about 70 per cent recurrent is fairly okay,” Yusuf said.
He underscored the need to create enabling environment for the private sector, noting that not much had been done with the 2017 budget and there is a possibility that the 2018 budget may go the same way.
He said that there should be a proper framework for paying oil marketers and contractors arrears.
Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, urged the government to focus on primary and secondary issues.
He said that although Nigeria needs to grow, the 2018 budget may not be the propeller of an economic leap.
“Inflationary projection in the budget is not realistic. Government is silent on subsidy on power and petroleum products and minimum wage. The projection for non-oil revenue is not realistic and the deficit gap may widen after all,” Rewane said.
Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Shamsudeen Usman, stressed the need for the executive arm of government to engage the National Assembly.
“The budget is an economic material but also a highly political one. This is not the first time the budget was presented in time. One of the problems is the gap between budget and approval,” Usman said.
The experts spoke at a seminar on the budget organised by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).