Uche Usim, Abuja
Abuja Chapter Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Prof Uche Uwaleke has picked holes in the 2021 Appropriation Bill submitted to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, saying that the new N4trillion borrowing plan to part finance a deficit of over N5 trillion was worrisome given the huge N3 trillion allocated to debt servicing alone.
Reacting to President Buhari’s budget presentation to the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja yesterday, Uwaleke, who is a professor of capital markets further noted that the deficit to GDP should have been kept within the 3 per cent thresh-hold stipulated in the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, despite the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
He expressed hope that the National Assembly will consider amendment in the budget envelope of N13.08 trillion and not to end up jerking up the figure.
He said: “I also think the real GDP growth rate projected at 3 per cent is a little ambitious in view of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy which is expected to linger till next year. This is why the recent Fitch report on Nigeria projects a GDP growth rate of 1.3 per cent for the country in 2021”.
Inspite of the above, Uwaleke was happy that the budget proposal seems to have set the right priorities with the bulk of capital spending going to Works and Housing, Power and Transport. He added that for the first time in many years, capital allocation to Education and Health was above that of Defense.
Uwaleke commended the Executive arm of Government for submitting the budget proposal in good time toallows the National Assembly sufficient time to consider and pass the appropriation Bill.
“I think the assumptions and budget parameters are realistic except for the Exchange rate of N379 to the dollar that may not hold due to the on-going process of unifying Exchange rates across all forex windows by the CBN consistent with the IMF prescription”, Uwaleke stated.