Budget Delay Inimical to Economic Growth, Says Expert

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Emma Okonji

Public Relations Expert, and President, Business Education Examination Council (BEEC), Mr. Mike Okereke has warned that Nigeria’s economic growth will be grossly affected by the continuous delay in budgetary process. He has therefore called for speedy approval of the 2018 budget.

Okereke insisted that such delay negates the principles of the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ policy in Nigeria.

Okereke gave the warning during a keynote speech on ‘Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria’ at the 2017 Presidential Award Dinner, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in Lagos, recently.

He said early budget approval and implementation would not only create enabling environment that would promote the ‘Ease of Doing Business, but would also help the private sector align with government plans and aspirations and in the process speed up the growth of the economy.

He called on the National Assembly to ensure that the national budget is delivered on schedule and ready for implementation on January 1, each year.

“Nigeria cannot be serious about instituting the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ policy when the national budget, which is the engine for national growth is five to six months late each year,” Okereke said.

Looking at the implications of national budget approval delay on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ he said the release of funds for execution of capital projects are also delayed when budget approval is delayed.

According to him, “Businesses attach a great deal of importance to government budget. It give businesses the strategic direction of government. Budget delay gives a wrong signal to investors and creates an impression that the country is not a serous place to do business. When government budget is delayed, business activities are also delayed.

“Most counties ensure that the budget approval and implementation take place on scheduled dates, and we have full time legislators whose key mandate is budget approval, aside law making and other oversight functions.”
He advised that the executive and the legislative arms of government should meet and agree on a fixed date for budget approval, and that the agreed timetable be made public, while party ensures that budget is delivered to the nation each year, on January 1.

Okereke also called on the federal government to as matter of urgency, craft and implement a public relations programme to market and rebrand Nigeria’s reputation as the investor friendly nation. The objective, he said, would enhance and project the country’s strength, its development plans and its ‘Ease of Doing Business’ policy, programme and achievement.

He again warned that Nigeria would be marginalised, unless government takes the hard decision of repositioning the country by creating the ease of doing business environment. “Nigeria must use professional public relations service offered by Public Relations Consultants to market its strength and development plan,” Okereke said.

He listed some of the reforms that Nigeria must embark upon to boost economic growth to include: Creating enabling business environment; Transforming Nigeria to an investment friendly country; Rebuilding the country’s social and physical infrastructure; and Providing reliable and steady power supply, among others. He said the reforms would enhance economic growth and create job opportunities for the youths.