Bimbola Oyesola, Adewale Sanyaolu, Fred Ezeh and Okwe Obi (Abuja)
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Civil Society Groups and Non-Governmental Organisations, yesterday joined rising list of Nigerians have picked holes in President Muhammadu Buhari’s N10.3trillion 2020 Budget describing as unrealistic the exchange rate assumption of N305 to the dollar among other assumptions.
In a statement made available to Daily Sun, Wednesday, Director General of LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, expressed concernson some of Buhari’s assumptions, saying it was difficult to justify, especially at a time declining revenue has become a major issue for both the government and citizens.
The Chamber explained that the 2020 budget numbers underscored the need for more innovation on revenue growth, reducing leakages and ensuring that revenue generating agencies of government remit what is due to it.
It said the country needs to do things differently to be able to get a different result.
In view of the critical revenue situation reflected in the budget numbers and previous revenue performance, Yusuf said, no effort should be spared in attracting private capital for investment in key infrastructures that may be considered bankable as that would reduce the financing gaps that currently exist.
‘‘The private sector looks forward to the details of the appropriation bill proposed by the government to ensure appropriate engagement with the legislature before its passage into law.
We believe that there should be a window of opportunity for stakeholders to make their inputs into the budget.
Meanwhile, a coalition of 23 Nigerian Civil Society Organisations, Partnership for Advocacy on Child and Family Health has registered its discontent with the poor budgetary allocation to health sector in the 2020 budget
The Coalition asked the Federal Government to prioritise health sector by increasing its annual budgetary allocation and also facilitate timely release of funds, in addition to efficient and effective utilisation of such allocations for capital expenditure.
The group also appealed to lawmakers to ensure early passage of an adequately funded health sector line within the annual budget and to discharge their constitutional responsibility of effective supervision of health sector budget implementation.
Spokesman of the Coalition, Dr. Habib Sadauki, in a statement released in Abuja, on Wednesday, raised concerns that the amount allocated to health sector in 2020 budget was poor and falls short of global expectation.
He said: “In last decade, the utilisation of capital expenditure in health sector has been poor, thus making it difficult for Nigeria to achieve the objectives of such budgetary allocations.
“In 2012, N60. 92 billion was allocated to health sector, out of which only N45 billion was released. Of the N45 billion released, only N33.68 billion was spent while N11.32 billion was returned to the treasury at the end of year.
“Fast forwarding to 2018, N141.62 billion was allocated to health sector, but only N21.62 billion was released. More shocking was that, of the N21.62 billion that was released, only N13.35 billion was utilised. N8.27 billion was returned to the treasury. This has been the practice over the years.”
He was unhappy that despite the fact that Federal Government signed the Abuja Declaration in 2001 promising to spend 15 percent of the annual budget on the health sector, no administration has achieved more than six percent.
Similarly a Non-governmental Organisation, Feed Africa Advocacy Network (FAAN), also lamented that the N83 billion allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the 2020 budget was poor, compared to N220 billion allocated to the sector in the 2019 budget.
Addressing the media in Abuja, FAAN Executive Director, Chika Okeke, said the paltry sum would continue to suffocate the sector and make it difficult for Nigeria to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of tackling poverty.
“The budget expenditure is N10.33 trillion. As we know N83 billion for agriculture in capital expenditure which is about 1.5 percentage of the entire budget. The 2020 budget for agriculture is totally ridiculous.
There is no reason to explain why Nigeria at this time, and in this circumstances, is allocating such paltry sum to agriiculture.
For us, we feel that the continued decrease from what the Federal Government has given the budget as against N220 billion in 2018, almost a N100 billion capital expenditure for agric in 2018, shows a sustained decline.
The 2018 budget represented about 78per cent to about 55 per cent in 2019 as far as the Maputo Declaration of 2003. We want the Federal Government to, not just, pay leap service to agricultural development in Nigeria, but to actually take further steps by making adequate investment.
The country’s population is about 200 million. Expending only 1per cent of our national budget to stimulate agriculture is not acceptable. This country will never go close to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2 if we continue to pay lip service to agriculture by giving it less allocation.
We are calling on the National Assembly for a supplementary allocation to the agricultural sector.’’
He added that for Nigeria to sufficiently feed it citizens, government must invest in research, development and provide enough tractors to ease farming.
“For Africa to feed itself, Nigeria needs to become self-sufficient which can be made possible with research and development to improve the quality of seeds, animal feed formulation, or soil management regeneration or whatever. N83 billion is certainly not sufficient alone for research and development. Nigeria with a population of 200 million, has less than 50,000 tractors. It is estimated that Nigeria needs about N5 trillion investment to bridge the gap in tractor provision.”
But, Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Adamawa, Malam Ahmad Sajoh, said the 2020 budget was in line with poverty alleviation efforts of the present administration which seeks to take millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
Sajoh said the commitment to block leakages, if successful, would boost the economy.