By Omodele Adigun
As part of efforts to grow the economy, over N17 trillion budget expected to create better life for Nigerians, will be implemented this year, also the central bank is to release N13billion to about 100,000 small businesses next month and exponential rise in external reserves will become a reallity soon.These and more are some of the features that will shape this new year.
To create better life for Nigerians, over N17 trillion has been proposed by both federal and state governments for 2018 as appropriation bills. At the last count, President muhammadu Buhari and 34 governors, have so far presented a total of N17.075 trillion before the National Assembly and the respective state houses of assembly. This is about N3.455 trillion or 25.4 per cent higher than the N13.62 trillion which these states and the Federal Government budgeted for 2017.
The states collectively allocated more funds to capital expenditure, N5.053 trillion, compared with the recurrent expenditure of N3.132 trillion.
Altogether, the governments will spend N7.705 trillion on capital expenditure and N9.092 trillion on recurrent expenditure. ßThis may translate to jobs for the people.
Access to finance is at the heart of the CBN with a view to rebooting small businesses in the country. According to the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, this was one of the decisions taken at the December Retreat of the Bankers’ Committee in Lagos. He explained that it is imperative to increase finance access to the agriculture and the MSMEs since they constitute 95 per cent of businesses in the country. As a result, N13 billion may be released to 100,000 Micro, ßSmall and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in February.
Export stimulation facility
The N500 billion Export Stimulation Facility ß(ESF) proposed two years ago by CBN as well as the N50 billion Direct Intervention Fund from the Nigeria Export-Import Bank, may be resuscitated by CBN to help non oil exporters produce, add value and export produce like cocoa, cashew, palm oil, sesame seeds, rubber and solid minerals
“We are saying that in order to create jobs for our people there is a need for us to advance further to value addition and begin to talk about processing of exportable items rather than export raw cashew, we are thinking of exporting processed cashew. Rather than export raw cocoa, we are thinking of giving support to companies that process cocoa to cocoa butter and cakes and all that. We also know that there are some of the Nigerian companies that have benefited from some of our export stimulations facilities in the past and some of them still remain moribund, and we have also told our development finance department to take a look at those companies.”, said Emefiele
Many moribund companies may come back to life as the CBN plans to give them life line, if hints from its governor is anything to go by.
Hear him: “If tomorrow, we find investors that want to come back and reestablish tumbler factory, count on us, we will support you. If we find a company that says it wants to come back and make fluorescent tube or electricity bulbs in this country, we will support you. There is no how we can create jobs for our people without the support of the private sector. The Federal Government or the CBN can not do it alone. The support of the private sector is needed and very germane.
“We have also told our development finance department to take a look at companies like ….. there is also another company that is also into cocoa processing that is somewhere in Ibadan, we are going to be working with them to see that we really get their production back on track. By doing this we are going to be creating more jobs for our people other than just creating jobs we will see that it will afford opportunity to increase our export earnings for the good of the country because those export earnings are also necessary.
Truly, the framework about how this would work is going to be developed by NEXIM, the Development Finance Dept of the CBN and the Special Adviser Agric of the Governor’s Office.”
Another great expectation for this year is accretion to the foreign reserves in the wake of continuous rise in the crude oil price at the world market. As of Thursday December 28, the oil price stood at $64.46 per barrel, according to information obtained from the CBN website. This has revived the hope that the reserves, currently at $38.73 billion as of December, 28, will shoot above the $40 billion earlier predicted by the CBN boss.
Tax evaders , who failed to take advantage of the amnesty programme of the Fedderal Government-the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme(VAIDS), may be made to face the music as from April.
“We must name and shame the defaulters after the deadline. We will definitely persecute them”, says Mrs Kemi Adeosun, the Finance Minister.
The monetary authority has predicted low double digit or high single digit inflation rate during the year, saying “as the socio-economic factors that are driving food inflation are resolved, the inertia therein would dissipate, and the pace of headline disinflation will grow.”
Going by the projection of the CBN, the exchange rate is expected to be stable and appreciate against major currencies.The apex bank base its outlook on increase in external reserves, market confidence and improved sentiments.