ByÂ Emeka Mamah
Kaduna â€” The National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, has faulted Federal Governmentâ€™s 2010 budget, describing it as industry and employment-shy.
Speaking at a press conference in Kaduna yesterday, the unionâ€™s General Secretary who is also Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Issa Aremu, regretted that, â€œ10 years after so much official rhetoric about economic diversification, Nigeria is still oil dependent.â€
Aremu said the budget was also silent on clear cut concrete economic parameters to measure the performance of the budget such as the expected level of capacity utilisation and the number of jobs to be created.
According to him, â€œit is time to break out of oil dependency and diversify the economy through activist Federal Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
â€œThe Acting President had pledged that the 2010 budget would accelerate Nigeriaâ€™s economic recovery through targeted fiscal interventions aimed at stimulating the economy, sustaining private sector growth and enhancing the pace of national development.
â€œBudget 2010 must reverse the worsening unemployment situation due to mass closures of industries, failing which the budget will end up as other failed past budgets.
â€œThe 2010 budget does not make provision for the proposed minimum wage. There is, therefore, the need for supplementary budget to address this.
â€œThe budget deficit is on the increase (N1.3 trillion) which is 4.5 per cent of GDP above the limit approved within the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
â€œDeficit is good if it is targeted towards economic recovery.Â In the wake of the global economic meltdown, Europe and America are being revived through huge budget deficit. The challenge lies in how we must have value for the increased deficit in 2010 budget.
Urgent revival of the industry
â€œOne practical way to measure the value is urgent revival of the industry.Â With particular reference to textile industry, there is an urgent need to recapitalise Bank of Industry for long-term funding of the industry.
â€œNigeria must also address the problem of power crisis. Industry must be subsidised to offset the cost of private energy. Interestingly, the 2010 budget promises improvement in power infrastructure aimed at doubling electricity capacity to 10,000 megawatts (MW) by the end of 2011.
On $1bn debt from World Bank
â€œNigeria should not return again to the road of indebtedness. The Minister of Finance should clear the air on the issue of $1 billion debt from World Bank to finance part of the 2010 budget.
â€œThe best way to ensure effective management of the budget is to stop the existing leakages.