Legal Nigeria

Group hails Tinubu for breaking 24-year fiscal milestone

Abody of independent policy analysts under the aegis of the Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI) has applauded the Federal Government for allocating more funds to capital expenditure than recurrent in this year’s budget for the first time in 24 years.

The group also hailed the decision to buck the 24-year trend with the 2024 budget as a reflection of the government’s sincerity in driving real economic growth.

The commendation was contained in a statement by IMPI Chairman, Chief Niyi Akinsiju in Abuja.

The policy thinks tank noted that the country has a lot of positives to derive from an N28.7 trillion spending plan that seeks to correct years of budget imbalance between capital and recurrent expenditures.

According to the group, “From an analytical point of view, a budget with higher capital expenditure than recurrent is not only a driver of economic growth, it also impacts individual citizen’s quality and way of life. 

“In this regard, we concur with the 2019 submission of the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) that the only way to bring about a meaningful influence on the economy is to monitor and evaluate funds that are specially intended for capital expenditure and capital projects.

“It would, however, appear that the disequilibrium between capital and recurrent expenditures has been eventually corrected. For the first time in the current democratic dispensation, the 2024 budget, which is the first in the tenure of President Bola Tinubu’s administration, has more funds allocated to capital expenditure than recurrent. 

“The budget of N28.777 trillion for the 2024 fiscal year has a recurrent expenditure of N8.7 trillion with N9.9 trillion allocated to capital expenditure.

Granted that what was passed by the National Assembly was N1.28trillion more than the original N27.5 trillion spending plan, there are indeed good signs and prospects for a budget that is to be financed through a non-debt revenue of N19.6 trillion and a deficit of about N9.18 trillion. 

This is something to build on for an administration that has, since assuming office, embraced economic reforms that are not only courageous in the face of historical resistance to their implementation but are also expected to yield long-term transformative benefits to Nigerians,” it said. 

The group recalled how previous administrations failed to capitalize on two oil booms to boost infrastructural development in the country through higher capital votes.

“Between 2006 and 2013, the national economy grew at an average of between 6 and 8 per cent according to World Bank figures yet the increased revenue was channelled into feeding public servants. The recurrent expenditures in those years were always bigger than the allocation for capital expenditure.

“Nigeria’s recurrent expenditures which include spending on personnel expenses such as wages and pensions as well as overhead costs and service-wide votes have regularly consumed over 65% of total budgets and a huge chunk of revenue.

“We consider it even more depressing that despite the incongruent budgetary imbalance, the country has, since 2009, been recording yearly budget deficits that average N3.3trn in recent years aggravated by oil price volatility and post-COVID economic debilitations.

“Budget Office data show that between 2011 and 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria spent N29.3 trillion on (non-debt) recurrent expenditure while it earned N33.2 trillion in revenue during this period. This means that what went into capital projects was extremely negligible,” It added.

Expressing optimism that cost-cutting measures approved by President Tinubu will ensure that more funds are freed for the capital component of the budget.

The group noted: “In addition to this is the decision to implement the 12-year-old Stephen Oronsaye’s report on public sector reforms which is expected to reduce the cost of governance by at least N2 trillion even as the federal government is set to increase the minimum wage. The challenge ahead lies in ensuring a better budget implementation in a country with a record of poor budget performance. 

“We, however, feel sanguine over the prospect of attaining a 100 per cent implementation of the capital expenditure aspect of the 2024 federal government budget premised on freed revenue from the civil service reforms to be channelled into funding capital projects for the good of the larger percentage of Nigerians.”

Source:The nation