2018 budget passage must transcend selfish politics

by | November 10, 2017 12:55 am



In December 2016, the 2017 national budget was presented to the National Assembly and for the following six months, its passage was delayed as lawmakers found it as an opportunity to play politics. At a point, the budget was even said to have ‘gone missing’ from the hallowed chambers. Subsequently, there were the accusations and counter accusations of budget padding.
The Nigerian economy is today not in need of politicking, but cooperation and action to move the country forward. After struggling to pull out of an economic recession after five consecutive quarters, what the country needs is to sustain this growth. We believe that part of the sustenance the country needs to completely return the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the path of growth, is through a speedy passage of the 2018 budget now before the National Assembly. An early passage of the budget will eliminate uncertainties as to the direction the economy will take in the coming year. Invariably, the business community will be able to better make its own preparations (and early too) for the 2018 financial year.
In the last two years, delays of as much as six months in signing the budget into law, has held back spending on projects and weighed on economic growth. At this time however, the country not only needs to grow, but to permanently erase the decline caused by the economic recession.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, presented about N8.612 trillion as the 2018 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly, saying the projected expenditure will drive rapid economic recovery. He said at the session that with a benchmark of 45 dollars per barrel of crude oil, and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar in 2018, the budget would consolidate on the achievements of previous budgets to aggressively steer the economy to the path of steady growth.
The 2018 budget proposals are according to President Buhari; for a Budget of Consolidation, with a principal objective to reinforce and build on recent accomplishments, specifically, sustaining the reflationary policies of the past two budgets.
The President had during the budget presentation, expressed regret that the late passage of the 2017 Budget significantly constrained budget implementation. Consequently, urging the National Assembly to approve the spending plans by January 1, 2018 “in our efforts to return to a more predictable budget cycle that runs from January to December.”
While it remains debatable, just what accomplishments the president believes will be consolidated through the 2018 budget; we implore the National Assembly not to allow late passage to be used as part of possible excuses for any poor implementation.
We want the National Assembly to this time around, rise beyond partisan politics, selfish interests, and put Nigeria first.

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