…says oil benchmark @ $57 unrealisable
…worried over crawling 2019 Budget implementation, revenue generation
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
An antipoverty and non-governmental organization, Actionaid Nigeria, weekend, decried abysmal allocations to Agriculture, Education, Social Investment Programme, SIP, and Health sectors as contained in the 2020 Budget proposal presented last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, to the National Assembly.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Country Director, Ene Obi while expressing concern over the paltry sums allocated to vital sectors that have direct bearing with living standard of the citizenry.
According to Obi the oil benchmark at $57 per barrel and crude oil production of 2.18bpd is unrealistic. She called on the government to reconsider the 2020 budget as there are gaps in the proposed document.
The statement reads in part, “As an anti-poverty non-governmental organisation working to combat poverty and promote social justice in the 36 states and the FCT for 20 years, ActionAid Nigeria believes that poverty can be eradicated if rights, redistribution of resources, and resilience are prioritised.
“ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has followed with keen interest the implementation of the 2019 budget and the presentation of the 2020 budget proposal to the joint sitting of the National Assembly on Monday, October 08, 2019.
“Furthermore, the set parameters for the 2020 proposal remain unrealistic given the volatility in the global oil market and the increasing insecurity across the country. Oil benchmark at $57 and the crude oil production of 2.18bpd are unrealistic.
“The estimated revenue of N8.155t for 2020 is highly welcome if this will be vigorously pursued. AAN hopes that with the new Finance Bill to be submitted by the President, the review of the domestic tax policy will likely lead to improved revenue over the period.
“AAN is concerned that the 2020 budget proposal continues to deepen the huge gap between the capital and recurrent expenditures. The capital expenditure proposal for 2020 is N2.46t about 24% of aggregate projected expenditure compared to the recurrent proposal of N4.88t, this is not good enough for a country with a high need for infrastructural development given the teeming population.
“AAN decries the abysmal allocations to agriculture N81b, health N46b, education N48b and the Social Investment Programme N30b, it portrays the continued downward trends in the allocation to these key sectors.
“It is pertinent to make provisions for the adequate funding of Agriculture, Health and Education sectors given their strategic importance. Agriculture employs up to 80% of the population, especially in the informal sector, where the majority of the small-scale food producers are women farmers.
“Similarly, the health sector requires improved funding, our health centre, maternities and hospitals lack basic essential facilities and drugs and evidence have shown that increased investment in these pro-poor sectors has a strong impact on poverty and inequality reduction, while simultaneously creating employment opportunities.”
The organization also called on the National Assembly to correct inequalities and improve allocations to basic sectors of the economy in the 2020 budget proposal.
“AAN, therefore calls on our distinguished honourable Lawmakers to take a bold step in correcting the inherent inequality in the pattern of allocation in the 2020 budget proposal, with specific reference to the allocations on agriculture, health, education and the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP). These allocations need to be improved on”, she said.
However, AAN expressed worry over the crawling 2019 budget implementation and revenue generation.
“While AAN commends the tireless effort of the government in the early presentation of the 2020 budget proposal to the joint sitting of the National Assembly, ActionAid Nigeria is worried about the slow implementation of the 2019 budget owning to low-level revenue generation, aggregating N2.04t as at June 2019 and amounting to only 58% of the 2019 budget target.
“Even more worrisome is that N3.39t has been spent out of the N4.46t budgeted for recurrent expenditure as at June 30th, 2019, while only N294.63b was released for capital expenditure as at September 30th, 2019.
“This has a major implication to the infrastructural development of the country, meaning that we continue to consume far more than we invest”, it added.