Against the backdrop of incessant delay in the passage of nation’s budget, organised private sector (OPS) has called for reform to facilitate smooth operation of business in the Real Sector of the economy.
Speaking on behalf of the organized business in Nigeria, the director-general, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Mr. Timothy Olawale, stated that national development is premised on proper budgeting and disciplined implementation of the budget.
He said, “It can be rightly said that consistent delayed passage of national budget and below 50% implementation over the years have contributed to Nigeria’s slow growth.
Looking at the trend from 2014, the earliest time the National budget was passed was in 2016 and that was in the month of March. Nigeria’s fiscal year begins in January and ends in December; hence, we cannot begin to imagine the dire consequences of the late passage of the budget on national development and business growth.”
He noted that development in other climes- in Ghana for instance, the budget for the 2019 fiscal year was approved in November 2018.
“In Ethiopia, the budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal years was approved few days before the commencement of the fiscal year in July 2018. Similarly in Egypt, the budget for their 2018-2019 fiscal years was approved about a month to the commencement of the fiscal year”, he said.
According to the him, stability and predictability of the budgetary process of these countries could be one of the reasons why they are becoming the new desired destination for foreign investments.
The NECA Boss equally agreed that the attempt to return the nation to a January – December budgetary year is welcome. He reasoned that beyond enabling government to focus on the business of development, it will also improve investors’ confidence and aid planning for both the private and public sectors.
He reiterated that, “businesses thrive on certainty of government policies and programmes, a return to January to December fiscal year and focussed implementation of same will, no doubt, accelerate national development”.
He also added that implementation is largely based on availability of revenue, stressing that government should do well to ensure fiscal discipline, cut wastages and put more life into the war against corruption.
Olawale advocated for speedy action by both the Executive and Legislature to make this a reality.
Emphasising on the need for reform of the budgetary process, the NECA DG said efforts must be geared towards achieving a 100 percent implementation.