By Lydia Ngwakwe
Financial Economists on Thursday urged the Federal Government to give practical effect to the programmes in the 2021 budget for it to be realistic and sustainable.
The economists spoke on the nation’s N13.588 trillion budget in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Dec. 31 assented to the N13.588 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly, which was an increase of N505.61 billion on the N13.082 trillion initially proposed by the executive.
The increase, however, includes the N365 billion provision for upscaling the Nigeria Social Investment Programme, which the President had requested for after laying the Budget before the Legislature.
Buhari, while assenting to the budget, said he expected that it would, among other things, stimulate domestic economic activities and create employment opportunities, especially for our youth.
”We are intensifying our domestic revenue mobilization efforts so that we can have adequate resources to fund the 2021 Budget.
”Revenue Generating Agencies, and indeed all Ministries, Departments and Government Owned Enterprises, must work very hard to achieve their revenue targets, control their cost-to-revenue ratios, as well as ensure prompt and full remittance of revenue collections,” he had said.
Buhari also said that being a deficit budget, the specific Borrowing Plan would be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly.
Speaking on the budget, the Chief Executive Officer of ARVO Finance, Mr Ayotunde Bally, said that it looked like what could be achieved.
“This is realistic at the moment, but its sustainability is questionable due to changes in the market, the COVID pandemic issue, etc.
“I say this because the budget was pegged at 40 dollars per barrel, which to me is realistic.
“Furthermore, the non-oil sectors in Nigeria are looking very good at the moment, even in the face of challenges facing them.
“Finally, further funding for this budget is expected to come from Internally Generated Revenues, aids, and grants. All the foregoing makes this budget appear realistic, ” Bally said.
On his part, the Chairman of the Foundation for Economic Research and Training in Lagos, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said that government had the will and resources to carry out programs of the budget.
“The government has the resources and the will to implement the programmes of the budget; if done, then it is sustainable.
“But my worry is that the amount of money earmarked for debt servicing is too high, that will create a problem for the budget.
“So, if they can find the resources, they have the will, perhaps it is sustainable,” Ekpo said.
The Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Cowry Asset Management, Mr Johnson Chukwu, also said that the budget as prepared and passed, looked like a good fiscal tool.
“But there are challenges in terms of assessing the revenue projections of the government.
“The government projected about N9.2trillion as revenue, there is also a provision of N5.6trillion in non-debt recurrent expenditure and N3.2trillion as debt service costs and a provision of about N4.1trillion for capital resources.
“So, on paper, that looks good; but the challenge is the ability of the government to achieve a reasonable projection, of which if it fails to achieve that, then the budget will fail,” Cowry said.