From Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, listed major challenges that will affect the country’s economic and political stability in 2023.
President Buhari spoke when he presented the 2023 budget before a joint session of the National Assembly.
This is Buhari’s last budget before his exit from office next year, when his eight-year tenure would have elapsed.
Tagged “Budget of Fiscal Consolidation and Transition,” Buhari said “headwinds from low revenues, high inflation, exchange rate depreciation and insecurity,” were among the issues, like in other countries affecting Nigeria.
Buhari said: “Despite continuing efforts, unemployment, underemployment, and poverty rates remain high.
“We are currently implementing several skills development programmes and work opportunity programmes to enhance the employability of our youths and tackle the troubling level of youth unemployment,” he added.
President Buhari, whose administration has raised the country’s debt profile in seven years, expressed concerns over the debt-service-to-revenue.
He said: “Nonetheless, our debt-service-to-revenue ratio needs close attention. The current low revenue performance of the government, as reflected in the lowly revenue-to-GDP ratio of just about 8 per cent.
“Our medium-term objective remains to raise this ratio to 15 per cent, at which the debt service to revenue ratio will cease to be a concern.”
Speaking on projections, Buhari said: “Total federally distributable revenue is estimated at 11.09 trillion Naira in 2023, while total revenue available to fund the 2023 Federal Budget is estimated at 9.73 trillion Naira. This includes the revenues of 63 Government-Owned Enterprises.
“Oil revenue is projected at 1.92 trillion naira, Non-oil taxes are estimated at 2.43 trillion naira, FGN Independent revenues are projected to be 2.21 trillion naira. Other revenues total 762 billion naira, while the retained revenues of the GOEs amount to N2.42 trillion naira.”
Giving a sectoral breakdown, Buhari said: “A total expenditure of 20.51 trillion Naira is proposed for the Federal Government in 2023.
“In the health sector, the government intends to focus attention on equipping existing hospitals and rehabilitating infrastructure. Emphasis will also be on local production of basic medicines/vaccines.
“As human capital is the most critical resource for national development, our overall policy thrust is to expand our investment in education, health and social protection.
“To harness the potentials of all Nigerian women and enable them to productively contribute to the economy, we will continue to prioritise women’s empowerment programmes across various MDAs in 2023.
“Government is very concerned about the high food prices in the country. Various measures are being implemented to address structural factors underlying the issue. We will also step-up current efforts aimed at boosting food production and distribution in the country.
“You will recall our efforts in improving production of fertilizer, rice, maize cassava among other earlier initiatives.
“Government is not unaware of the challenges confronting the manufacturing sector. We will ensure effective implementation of policy measures aimed at positioning the manufacturing sector to generate more foreign exchange in the near future. We are also committed to improving the business environment to stimulate local and foreign investment.
“We ratified the Safe Schools Declaration in 2019. We remain committed to the effective implementation of our Safe Schools Policy. A total of 15.2 billion naira has been specifically provided in the 2023 Budget to scale up current measures to provide a safer and conducive learning environment in our schools.
“The government remains firmly committed to the security of life, property and investment across the country. Accordingly, defence and internal security continue to be accorded top priority in 2023. Current efforts to properly equip and motivate our valiant personnel in the armed forces, police and paramilitary units will be sustained.
“I assure you, insecurity, especially banditry and kidnapping, will be significantly curtailed before the end of this administration. We will redouble our efforts to ensure we leave a legacy of a peaceful, prosperous and secured nation.”