Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
In spite of the federal government’s refusal to adopt a zero based budgeting, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has expressed optimism that this year’s budget is capable of getting the country’s economy out of recession.
The Director General of the Chamber, Mr. Chijioke Ekechukwu made the remark at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday.
Ekechukwu said: “We have seen the budget, of course. It is a budget meant to bring us out of the recession we found ourselves. We could see cohesion between the budget and the medium time fiscal framework we have and Nigeria economic recovery growth plan that we already have. There is cohesion because you could see where the government of today has focussed its efforts. We also saw that in the areas of infrastructure, areas of growing infrastructural deficit that we actually had before and of course in power and in road construction.”
He added that going through the details of the budget, the government plans to spend a lot in the transport sector especially on railways in the country.
Ekechukwu pointed out that if the federal government had adopted the zero based budgeting promised Nigerians, it would have helped in cutting down some unnecessary expenses in the 2017 budget.
He stated: “I have a little concern because we expected to have a zero based budgeting that we were promised. But again, we saw that it was an incremental budget that we had. A zero based budget was supposed to treat the budget as if we are just starting, using this year as a base year and then taking it up from there. But we also saw that the budget so presented was just an incremental budget where the various ministries and parastatals added a particular percentage to the old budget that they had and that is why we keep having an increased volume in the budget figure.
“If we say we want a zero based budget, we should make it a zero based budget. A zero based budget should help us to actually curtail some of the excesses. For example we don’t need to budget some certain things if we really do not need them. What we really have in practical terms is implemental budget and not a zero budget that is what we observed.
“From what we have seen, whether it is zero based budget or implemental budget, if every other thing remains constant, what do I mean by that; if our oil production capacity of 2.2 million barrels per day remains so; if the insurgency remains as quiet as it is today; if the oil price does not drop like it did before; we are going to come out of recession with the budget we have seen.”
He stressed that the budget has done so well in trying to build the capital side of it, adding, “that means we are going to be expecting a lot of flow of money round the country because of the constructions that are going to take place and because of the monies that will start circulating within. So, I expect we are going to come out of recession if all these other things remain constant.”