Economist calls for speedy passage of budget proposals

An economist, Dr Aminu Usman, has advised the Federal Government to resolve all legal issues surrounding looted funds, part of which is meant to fund the N7.30 trillion 2017 budget proposals.

Usman gave this advice in an interview on Wednesday in Abuja.

The National Budget Office said that N250 billion of the recovered looted funds from corrupt officers, was projected to be part of the sources expected to finance the 2017 budget.

The office said that N72 billion of the money had already been recovered.

To be included in the budget financing is $320 million, which is N97.6 billion recovered loot of Sani Abacha, expected from the Swiss Government.

The balance of N90 billion would be sourced from other expected recovered loots, now at advanced stages.

Usman said the government should engage the National Assembly (NASS) to ensure a speedy passage of the budget proposals.

The expert said the government should also engage the Niger Delta militants with the hope of resolving their agitations to guarantee oil production and supply to the tune of 2.2 million barrels per day.

According to him, these steps will help the country to come out of the present recession.

Usman, a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Kaduna State University, said a lot had been said about the budget and that the government should address the issues surrounding it.

“To begin with, a major drawback was the timing of the presentation of the budget; too late into December about the time the NASS was going on recess.

“This means that the budget may not be signed into law until sometimes around April.

“This leaves us with only eight months to implement the budget. With our elongated contract awards process, implementation will only start between September and October.

“Nothing much can be achieved within three to four months that will move the economy towards growth and away from recession,” he said.

The don, however, said that the economy might show some signs of recovery possibly around the third quarter, largely due to the general favourable outlook for the year.

He said the efforts of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reach an agreement with market supply of crude, gave the hope that the market would at least be relatively stable for most part of the year.

“The stability will cause steady predictable cash flow to the country which will hopefully impact on the nation’s exchange and encourage investment by both local and foreign investors.

“We may also see a downward trend in unemployment towards the third quarter.

“However, inflation is likely to remain in double digit, due largely to the huge food supply gaps,” Usman said.

He also advised the government to pay more attention to the economy, as it did with security and corruption.

“The government should prioritise infrastructure investment to ease business activities in the country,” the don said.

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