Nigerians are worried that the lifespan of the 2017 budget will end by June 12 while that of 2018 is yet to be signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari as the country’s fragile economy totters
By Anayo Ezugwu
WHEN the National Assembly passed the N9.12 trillion 2018 Appropriation Bill on Wednesday, May 17, many business owners were hopeful that economic activities will commence in earnest. But three weeks after, the economy totters as uncertainty reigns while the President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to sign the bill into law.
Investigations have shown that business owners and indeed Nigerians will have to wait a little longer before the president signs the budget. This is because the executive arm of government is taking its time to go over the budget which the National Assembly handed over to it. Consequently, Nigerians are worried that the lifespan of the 2017 budget will terminate on Tuesday, June 12, before this year’s budget is signed.
Right now, there is no sign that the appropriation bill will become law before next Tuesday. Udo Udoma, minister of budget and national planning, on Monday, June 4, confirmed that the budget will not be ready anytime soon. He said: “The president is currently reviewing the budget. As you know, we have a minimum window of 30 days. As soon as he is through, he will sign it. That is what l can tell you for now,” he said.
Obviously, this has negative implication for the government. As Austin Nweze, lecturer, Pan-Atlantic University and economic analyst, toldRealnews in an interview, spending money that is not appropriated is criminal. He said any money not appropriated for that government spends is illegal, noting that that is what this government has been doing.
Apart from this, he said there is no sense of urgency on the part of the government to sign the 2018 budget into law, adding that this kind of act breeds corruption. According to him, the major implication of this is that many businesses are not functioning because of the absence of the budget which is not good for the economy and for business owners in the country.
“At the end of the day, how much time do they have to implement what they planned to do this year. You know the government has stopped working since October 2017 because of politics. I know one ministry that have plans to do many things because they wanted to use my brother’s facility and because they have not signed the budget, the ministry is yet to execute their plans.
“And the guy has been waiting for them to release money since last year. He didn’t come home during Christmas and Easter because he was waiting for this payment,” he said.
Nweze regretted that businesses are not moving because of government involvement in the economy. He said Nigerian government involvement in business which is between 70 and 80 percent is among the highest in the world.
“Will Rogers says that government has no business being in business unless business needs government aids. It was only during the President Obasanjo regime that we tried to run a private-sector led economy and after Obasanjo, it is even worse now. The people running the economy are not in a hurry and are not business-minded.
“They just want to hold on to power. It doesn’t matter what you say for as long as they remain in power. All the people in government now have never done anything called business. Ninety-nine percent of them don’t have any business of their own so they won’t understand how business operates. So they don’t know how to run an efficient system.”
To get out of this situation, Nweze said the country need to industrialise because the biggest business in Nigeria is the government business, adding that this is not an industry.
“So we must industrialise and if there is no industrialisation, we will keep on depending on government. How many rich businessmen and women in Nigeria made it without doing government business?
“The duty of government in business is to make policies that will catalyse the businesses for industrialisation to take place. And to do that we need equity. There is no way Nigeria will move forward as long as they keep doing what they are doing now.
“We need the private sector to build the economy because government doesn’t have the capacity to build any economy. The best they can do is to provide the right policies that would create enabling environment for individuals to express their creativity,” he said.
The breakdown of the N9.12 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly showed that the federal government will spend N2.2 trillion to service debts, with N1.75 trillion to be spent on domestic debts, and N254.07 billion on foreign debt service, while the sum of N190 billion is appropriated as sinking fund for retiring maturing debts.
– Jun. 8, 2018 @ 16:19 GMT |