Reaching revenue target, wise implementation are key challenges – Experts – The Sun Nigeria

Some economic experts in the North West said on Sunday that the sectoral allocation of the 2023 budget has raised hopes among Nigerians regarding key areas that need urgent attention.

The experts, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), however, explained that this hope would only turn into reality if the proposed amount is realized and the components of the budget, implemented “religiously” without no deviation.

Dr Peter Adamu, an economist at Kaduna State University (KASU), described the budget as a “document containing desirable income and expenditure”.

According to Adamu, wishes will only come true if projected revenues are actually generated, released and wisely used for the purposes contained in the budget document.

“From what we’ve seen, defense and security got the biggest chunk of the proposed budget, which is justifiable given the security challenges in the country.

“Again, 2023 is a very critical year as Nigerians prepare to go to the polls, as such we expect to see an improvement in the security situation.

“However, this will depend on the provision of funds allocated to security agencies to implement their plans to improve the security situation,” he said.

He said the health sector has also seen some improvement in terms of allocation, increasing from over 540 billion naira allocated in 2021 to around 800 billion naira in 2022, and has doubled to around 1.7 trillion naira in 2023.

He predicted that with this allocation, Nigerians would expect improvement in the health sector as the country was recovering from COVID-19 and had to prepare adequately to deal with an outbreak of diseases.

On education, Adamu said the sector has always lagged even when it was globally accepted that investing in education and health would improve the development of human capital, essential for development.

He pointed out that the amount allocated to the education sector over the years has always fluctuated around 5.2%, 6% or 7% of the total national budget.

“This is well below the UNESCO benchmark of 26% allocation to the education sector in the annual budget.

“We are expecting a large allocation to the education sector to address the problem of out-of-school children, infrastructure deficit, shortage of labor and other essential facilities,” he said.

The Economist commended the Federal Government for paying attention to the agricultural sector, with key interventions from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bank for Agriculture, leading to improved national production of rice and other cereals. .

However, he said that despite improved production due to government funding, food prices continued to rise.

“The government must look beyond funding to ensure locally produced food is available, accessible and affordable for the majority of the population or the target will be defeated,” he said.

Adamu also observed that the government did not seem to give the necessary priority to infrastructure development, with a paltry five percent allocation to the sector.

“We are all witness to the degradation of infrastructure in Nigeria – electricity, roads, information and communication technology (ICT) and other important facilities which should improve businesses and attract investment.

“We have not seen ICT penetrate our educational institutions as they should, in line with global standards; we still have students without access to digital facilities and internet connectivity,” he said.

For his part, Terhemba Wuam, Professor of Economic History, KASU, explained that the extent of budget implementation would solely depend on the availability of revenue.

He said the ability or inability of the Federal Government to bridge the funding gap will make or break the implementation of the 2023 budget and by extension the hope of Nigerians.

According to him, the probability of reaching a 50% implementation rate is doubtful, especially with the current international economic crises which could undermine the chances of financing the deficit by international financial markets and donors.

“The low revenues achieved in 2022 mean that financing recurrent and capital expenditures, as well as servicing debt, will present enormous challenges to the Buhari administration and the new government.

“Without broadening the revenue base and increasing the government’s share of GDP, the risk that infrastructure and capital projects will continue to stagnate remains high.

“This is especially true, given that the government’s expected revenue for 2023 is only 9.73 trillion naira and the same government is planning a budget of 20.51 trillion naira.

“This indicates that the expected financing gap of the budget by borrowing is N10.78 trillion, or more than 50% of the budget,” he analyzed.

Wuam noted that the 2023 budget was President Buhari’s biggest appropriations bill in terms of numbers, but had been overshadowed by inflation and the low value of the naira against the dollar.

He said the 2023 budget was the largest Nigeria has ever had, even in dollar terms, as the 20.5 trillion naira comes to about $46 billion at the exchange rate of 439 naira to one. dollar.

He said, however, that at the free market exchange rate, it reached $28 billion, adding that rising inflation was another major challenge.

“President Buhari may find it difficult to transform the country with his latest budget which he will have only five months to implement.

“The size of the budget, despite what may appear to many to be huge numbers, is insufficient due to the development challenges facing the country,” Don University said.

In his contribution, Malam Aliyu Salis, a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics at Bayero University in Kano, called for additional funding for the small and medium enterprise sector.

Another economist, Mr. Muhammad Khadi, advised President Muhammad Buhari to increase the country’s oil production level to meet the OPEC quota to ensure fiscal sustainability and reduce the proposed budget deficit.

Khadi also stressed the need to reduce the high cost of governance to reflect the current economic reality.

Dr. Bashir Achida, professor of economics at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, observed that recurrent expenditure was much higher than capital expenditure, a situation that is not healthy for development.

“If we generally look at expenditure, in a budget of over 20.5 trillion naira, we only have capital expenditure of around 5.3 trillion naira.

“It indicates that around three-quarters of the budget is spent on recurrent expenditure, which is a big deal because it indicates that we are running a very expensive government,” he noted.

In Zamfara, the epicenter of banditry in the northwest, most respondents said the amount allocated to the security sector made their hearts glad.

According to Mr. Abdulrazak Kaura, Zonal Secretary of the Union of Nigerian Journalists (NUJ) based in Zamfara, “the President’s expressed commitment to addressing the security challenges is commendable”.

“Zamfara is the most affected state in the country in terms of insecurity, so we are more concerned about the provisions made for security in the budget,” he added. (NOPE)

Sallie R. Loera