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Nigeria can’t continue to borrow to buy cars, computers – BudgIT

BudgIT has said that Nigeria cannot continue to borrow to buy cars, computers, and retrofit office buildings at the detriment of the critical mass needed…

BudgIT has said that Nigeria cannot continue to borrow to buy cars, computers, and retrofit office buildings at the detriment of the critical mass needed to improve the economy and end the cycle of poverty.

BudgIT is a civic startup that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement and facilitate societal change.

It said this in a statement, made available to Daily Trust, after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2018 budget to the National Assembly on Tuesday.

BudgIT said it welcomes the relatively early presentation of the 2018 budget and accepts that the economy requires significant fiscal injections to sustain and accelerate economic growth.

The civic organisation speaking on its expectations said it hoped the biggest proportion of capital allocation would go into improving infrastructure, expanding access to education and health, among others.

“We hope the biggest proportion of capital allocation will go into improving infrastructure, expanding access to education and health, among others.”

 “Significant investment in Infrastructure, education and agriculture, among others, are also important if the country’s hope of diversifying government revenue and export base is to be sustained.”

The statement signed by Communications Lead, Abiola Afolabi-Sosami, said “Improvement in tax administration, which the government hopes to push ahead within 2018 is also welcome.  Equally important is the need to end the cycle of poverty through some form of social intervention.”

 Afolabi-Sosami  added that, “In all, the proposed 2018 budget of N8.6tn and its guiding framework captures a majority of the objectives and philosophy that scholars, researchers and economists are likely to think about when the need for fiscal injections arise. The philosophy of the current government to spend big due to the relatively slow economic activities is welcome and clearly understood.

“As such, the capital expenditure allocation of N2.42tn is huge in nominal terms when compared to previous budgets. Given that almost all capital expenditure allocation will be financed primarily by debts, we hope that the line items in the budget will reflect such.”

 In it analysis, BudgIT said, “the revenue projection of N6.6tn is very optimistic, considering that the total retained revenue of the federal government, including non-oil and oil-related revenue in 2015 and 2016, was N2.8tn and N2.6tn respectively.

“Federal government’s non-oil revenue in the first six months of 2017 stood at N587bn, and no significant facts suggest the figure would double or triple in approaching the new fiscal year. Oil revenue for the 2018 fiscal year is projected at N2.332tn while the biggest bracket of government expected revenue is projected to come from the non-oil sector at N4.16tn.”

Although BudgIT is in accordance with the budget benchmark of $45 per barrel which it says is within the band, it however said there has to be excessive caution in keeping the peace of the Niger Delta, which is a crucial element in ensuring optimal production.

While urging stakeholders to properly interrogate the budget, it also said, “analysis will be better when the line items are released to the public in a timely manner in line with the fiscal responsibility act that the president swore to uphold.

With the biggest proportion of government’s projected revenue to come from the non-oil sector, the statement said, “government will need to be more transparent about government finances, including releasing more information on actual recoveries from loot purportedly returned by former public officials.”

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