Says ‘50% of capital budgets unimplemented’
LESS than 50 per cent of Nigeria’s capital budgets remained unimplemented despite it forming the critical aspect of the nation’s budget, former Rivers State Trade Union Congress (TUC)) Chairman, Comrade Chika Onuegbu, has said.
Speaking with newsmen at the weekend, he blamed the situation on shoddy implementation of budgets, especially its capital component.
He urged the in-coming Ninth National Assembly and the executive to work assiduously to ensure full implementation of the capital component of the recently passed 2019 Appropriation Bill.
Eight trillion, nine hundred and sixteen billion Naira (N8.916trillion) has been appropriated and passed as the 2019 budget, which is N86 billion higher than the N8.83 trillion budget proposal sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although, Comrade Onuegbu described the passage of the bill as “good news”, adding that the in-coming executive, working in collaboration with the legislature, must work on the inconsistency that has continued to characterise the nation’s budget performance, particularly the capital budget.
“Budgets not implemented effectively. Yet, if you look at their performance, you will see that not up to 50 per cent of the capital component of the budget is implemented. And it is the capital budget that matters to us, the operators in various sectors of the economy,” he said.
Onuegbu, who is also the immediate past National Industrial Officer, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), said the country’s budgets represent about 10 per cent of her Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to him, this shows that the budget is not enough to deliver the needed infrastructure for development. Rather, what will bring development is actually the private sector.
He also urged the government to do something about its huge borrowings, pointing out that the debt service obligation in the budget was too high.
He said: “In the case of Nigeria, the resources for the payment of loans actually come from government revenue, which is oil.
“If the oil price goes down, what is the capacity of government to service the loans?
While insisting that the government should review its borrowings, he said government’s argument that the borrowings were still within sustainable threshold was untenable.
According to him, this is because government uses the debt-to-GDP level, which does not apply to Nigeria.
He further advised the legislative and executive arms to ensure that budgets are passed in January every year to ensure that people look at the budget to plan their programmes.