In the just concluded week, the National Assembly finally passed the 2019 Appropriation Bill after it raised the proposed budget by N86 billion. According to the Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, the 2019 proposed budget was increased to N8.92 trillion from N8.83 trillion presented by President Muhammadu Buhari, in order to cater for the severance benefits of the outgoing lawmakers and their aides, make provision for the National Assembly orientation programme, and provide more fund for the security and intelligence agencies to strengthen the fight against all forms of crimes in the country.
Specifically, the Committee recommended that N10 billion should be taken from service-wide votes to support the victims of crises in Zamfara State. The lawmakers also adopted the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) which proposed crude oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day (mbpd), USD60 per barrel as oil price benchmark and an exchange rate of N305/USD.
Other major highlights of the passed N8.92 trillion appropriation bills include: N502.06 billion for statutory transfer; N500 billion for Special Intervention; N4.06 trillion for current expenditure; N2.09 trillion for capital expenditure; and N1.91 trillion as fiscal deficit.
In another development, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) stated that Nigeria’s current population stood at 201 million, hitting a new high.
The new population figure by UN represented an increase of 2.6% from the 195.9 million as at October 2018. According to the UNFPA’s 2019 State of the World Population report, Nigeria’s population has been growing by 2.6% from 2010 to 2019 despite the decline in fertility rate among the nation’s women, which dropped to 5.3 in 2019 from 6.4 in 1969.
The demographic breakdown of the 201 million Nigerians in the report showed that 88.44 million (representing 44% of the population) were between the ages of 0 and 14, while 64.32 million (representing 32% of the population) were within the ages of 10 and 24 years.
Meanwhile, the Director in charge of Census at the National Population Commission (NPC) in Nigeria, Usman Kolapo, said that the UN’s population figure was based on mere projections from the 2006 census conducted by Nigeria.
He stated that the figure would not be as high as the 201 million, if the medium or low variant of the birth and death rates were used as against the high variant of birth and death rates used by UNFPA in estimating the population figure. While we commend the passage of the 2019 proposed budget, we feel there is a need for Federal Government to reversed its budget cycle to January – December of each year as this would enhance fiscal planning and effective implementation of capital budget.
More so, we expect both arms of government to work in harmony to promote market friendly policies and regulations that would facilitate a vibrant environment for businesses to thrive and by so doing, expand both the tax net as well as collections in line with its objectives to increase non-oil revenue sources, particularly for executing its spending plans for 2019 and beyond.