Knocks, Kudos Trail 2017 Budget Proposal 

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By  Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

Reactions have continued to trail the N7.298 trillion 2017 Appropriation Bill, which was submitted to the National Assembly on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.

While some of the reactions commended some aspects of the budget proposals, others picked holes in some provisions.

In its reaction, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), said it

welcomed what it described as key positive points in the budget speech and the supporting budget policy statement.

According to CSJ, some positives in the budget proposals include the promise to fully align fiscal, monetary and trade policies to promote import substitution, as well as the plan by the federal government to stop the payment of Joint Venture Cash Calls which will now be subject to a new funding mechanism that will allow for cost recovery.

On the flipside, CSJ  raised concerns about the budget speech and the presentation, including the submission of the budget on December 14, which it described as “late in the year and a few days to the start of the legislative Christmas and new year break.”

It also faulted the non-approval of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2017-2019.

The group noted that “strictly speaking in law, there cannot be an executive budget submitted for legislative approval without the approval of the MTEF,” adding that ‘illegality may have occurred in the preparation and presentation of the budget.”

CSJ also picked holes in the proposal to use executive orders to speed government procurement and approvals,” adding: “This may lead to derogations in due process for public procurements thereby denying the country of the benefits of a well-planned procurement process.”

Also reacting, a finance analyst, Odilim Enwegbara faulted government’s proposed huge domestic borrowing.

During a television programme, Enwegbara faulted the N1.66 trillion proposed for debt service, arguing that the amount was humongous.

According to him, rather than borrow domestically, government should have borrowed more from external sources due their concessionary windows.

The 2017 budget proposals are anchored on a fiscal deficit of N2.36 trillion, which is about 2.18 per cent of GDP.  

The deficit will be financed mainly by borrowing which is projected to be about N2.32 trillion. N1.067 trillion or about 46 per cent of the borrowing is from external sources while N1.254 trillion will be borrowed from the domestic market.