The National Assembly must have a budget office that will provide analyses and advice to the legislative arm of government so as to ease the passage of the document and enhance its implementation.
Former Minister of National Planning, Shamsuddeen Usman, who said this in Lagos on Friday, said such an institution will bring efficiency to the national budget implementation and forestall the duplication, apart from “padding” and other issues that always afflict the document.
Speaking during the 2018 Budget Seminar organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) where he was the Guest of Honour, Usman also emphasized the need for Nigerians to always track the budget by checking its impacts and also the outcome of activities of the ministries on the people.
Usman made the submission on the heel of the panel discussion by financial experts at the event who observed that the 2018 Budget was ambitious but not an expansionary one, which they noted lacks stimulus.
“We must build institutions that will address the issue of lag in budget implementation. The Executive working closely with the National Assembly and making early engagement with them will address that. We must have a strong budget office with experts, like the brilliant guys we have here, that will do analyses of everything for them and advise them,” Usman said.
The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yisuff; CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Bismarck Rewane; Unilag Professor, Ndubuisi Nwokoma and Professor Afolabi Olowookere, were the panelists at the discussion moderated by CEO, Quest Advisory Services, Bayo Rotimi,
A communiqué issued after the discussion, observed that the macroeconomic environment has improved with “the country emerging out of recession, companies posting improved earnings, inflation moderating and external reserve growing and exchange rate stabilizing.”
It also noted that there is an intimate connection between the capital market and the national budget, “each affecting the other in a mutually benefiting way.”
It, however, recommended that additional provision was urgent, “particularly when account is taken of the fact that the current provision is just about eight per cent of GDP, a much smaller proportion when compared with what obtains in other jurisdictions.”
The communiqué also said the position of government about subsidies needs to be made clearer, especially in view of the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is the main supplier of petroleum products in the country.
Rewane had earlier noted that with the increasing debt portfolio and the downgrading of the nation’s economy by the international rating agency, Moody’s, after the budget presentation, the implication was that Nigeria will pay more interests on new borrowings.