Experts divided over 2016 budget

Experts divided over 2016 budget

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  • It’s a budget of hope -Optimists
  • It’s designed to mortgage Nigeria’s future -Critics

Economic experts have expressed mixed feelings over the N6.08 trillion budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly. While some of them believe that the Federal Government has taken the right decision by focusing on creating over 500,000 new jobs for the youth, transforming the education, power, works and housing, agriculture and transportation sectors, others describe the plan as an executive fraud, designed to mortgage the future of Nigeria.

Allocating N369.6 billion to the education sector is a welcome development, according to a former lecturer, Economics Department, Lagos State University, Dr. Sola Owoeye. He said this was an indication that the current administration was committed to the future of youth and the growth of the sector.

“Every country in the world gives priority to education because education is the bedrock of the society. It will boost the standard of living; reduce literacy and increase enrolment. And since Government is planning to employ 500,000 people to teach, that means that we would have more teachers to teach and meet the international standards of teacher to student ratio,” he said.

Another economic expert, Mr. Gbenga Shobowale, explained that if the proposed social welfare package worth N500 billion was approved and implemented transparently, Nigerians, especially the unemployed masses, would soon bid poverty farewell. He said there were indications that the government would fight spiritedly to solve the unemployment crisis that had eaten deep into the fabric of the nation.

“Paying unemployed Nigerian graduates the post-National Youth Service Corps grant and feeding school children are timely interventions that will engage the unemployed that had in the past engaged in activities detrimental to the growth of the country because of their seeming lack of hope. Feeding school children will relieve their parents to an extent,” he noted.

Shobowale added that if properly implemented, the proposed social welfare programme should cater for a larger population of the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians with the increasing children enrolment in schools. Owoeye also commended the Federal Government for allocating N294.5 billion to the Ministry of Defence to curb insurgencies, among other related issues in the country. He stated, “There are many investors that would like to come but because of security challenges in the country they won’t come. People will come and invest in Nigeria when the issue of security is taken care of.

“For instance, in the power sector, there are many companies that would have loved to be involved in the sector but for the lack of security. We have to ensure the security of the people coming, so increasing budgetary allocation to security is a right step in the right direction.”

CRITICS KICK

However, other economic experts have argued that the budget will not benefit Nigerians. A former economic analyst with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Titus Okurounmu, explained that the budget deficit of N2.2 trillion indicated that the country had to source for loans to fund the estimated revenue, considering the constant slide of the price of crude oil in the global market.

“Such deficit indicates that the budget is designed to mortgage the future of the country. Borrowing money to engage in productive activities that will boost the economy is acceptable but it is a crime for somebody to obtain a loan to build airports or construct roads like the previous administration did. That is counter-productive,” he said. Okurounmu also noted that the deficit was too high, saying that, with a high level of deficit and reduction in revenue made from sales of crude oil, the economy would be exposed to a greater risk in 2016, especially if crude oil price crashed further to $30.

“Borrowing money internally can lead to inflation and getting money outside Nigeria means you have to pay for it. Recruiting 500,000 graduates means that you are recouping because you have to pay them. But if the power sector can be revived, we may be on the safe side because the real sector will thrive,” he said.

IT’S A BUDGET OF CHANGE – BUHARI

Assuring Nigerians of a brighter 2016, President Buhari said his administration was set to use the year’s budget to stimulate the economy, making it more competitive

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