The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has reiterated the need for the national budget to be credible, saying the impact of credible budget on economic growth cannot not be underestimated.
Saraki made the remark on Monday in Abuja at the opening of public hearing on the 2017 budget organised by the joint committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on Appropriation.
The public hearing, the first of its kind, was organised by the National Assembly to get the views and inputs of stakeholders and critical sectors of the economy in the preparation of the 2017 budget.
The intent is to make the budget credible and align with the goal of the federal government to diversify and pull the economy out of recession.
Saraki said, “The problem has always been how best to implement the budget, which is the best tool for economic development.
“If the budget is well-crafted and implemented, it remains the most potent fiscal policy instrument of government in delivering socio-economic benefits in an all-inclusive manner.
“The best way to achieve this is to ensure that all stakeholders are made a part of the decision-making process, especially as it relates to the provision of public services and distribution of social benefits.”
The senate president gave assurance that the National Assembly was ready to assist the executive in its drive to achieve the desired development.
He said, “While government has made efforts to ensure that provisions in the budget proposal align with the goal of pulling the economy out of recession and laying the foundation for diversified growth, certain provisions are clearly off the path.
“The budget must address the critical issues setting back our national growth and development.
“On a more specific note, the 2017 capital budget proposal is intended to support activities that will help to speed up diversification of the economy, promote non-oil sector and create jobs for our youths.
“You will agree with me that the current state of the economy needs, among others, a credible budget that will stimulate real economic activities, fix our critical infrastructure and provide cushion for the poor and vulnerable.
“The challenge, however, is how best to ensure that the budget is utilised as an effective policy to achieve these.
“It is, therefore, in line with this belief that the 8th National Assembly deemed it necessary to bring government, civil society organisations, the private sector, and other key actors in the economy together to deliberate on the budget proposal.
“Through this engagement and others to come, we hope to increase the efficiency of government and its responsiveness to citizens needs as well as improve overall transparency and accountability in governance.”
Saraki enumerated the issues challenging Nigeria’s economy to include low government revenues, shortages in foreign exchange supply, slowdown in economic activities, rising unemployment and high cost of living.
He said, “We are all affected in one way or another. With key economic indicators heading south, there is no better opportunity to reset the fundamentals of our economy.
“What we have before our consideration is the 2017 Budget proposal of N7.298 tn which, we believe, has been designed based on a medium-term recovery and growth plan.
“At the various sub-committees, we are objectively reviewing the planned expenditures, especially as they relate to feasibility and relevance in delivering the broad objectives of the budget.
“However, the extent to which the budget proposal will succeed in achieving its overall objective of pulling the economy out of recession depends on a number of imperatives.
“These include, how well the capital spending targets critical sectors of the economy and how much of the capital allocation is devoted to real developmental projects as against administrative capital projects.
“It also includes the level of detail provided in the budget that will aid proper oversight of budget implementation and ultimately the realisation of projected revenues and borrowings.”