Nigeria’s bid to achieve economic recovery and sustainable growth through its 2018 budget was the focus of the 2017 economic discourse hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos.
Most of the experts at the event said the assumptions for the budget are overly optimistic and that the implementation of the budget alone may not be the necessary fiscal stimulus for growth of the economy.
The discourse which brought together stakeholders from both the public and private sector brainstormed on the theme “2018 FGN Budget and Beyond”, looking at key issues in the budget and how this will shape the Nigerian socio-economic landscape.
Ismai’la Muhammadu Zakari, president of ICAN, in his opening remarks, said the forum was an opportunity for experts to examine the 2018 budget and share their perspectives on how it can drive economic growth in Nigeria, and areas the government must address in the budget.
Zakari asserted that in a time and phase where digital technology was revolutionizing the globe, Nigeria’s policy makers had the task of driving and implementing a robust framework that makes the economy competitive.
He called for transparency and accountability in the implementation of the 2018 budget, which he said must align with best practices like the International Accounting Standards.
Tunde Lemo, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and chairman of the occasion, in his assessment of the 2018 National Budget, stated that the assumptions the non-oil revenue projection of over N4 trillion was too optimistic. He also identified the debt profile of the nation, as a pressure point that the Federal Government has to address effectively.
Mike Obadan, professor of economics at the University of Benin in his keynote paper presentation, said the pace of Nigeria’s economic recovery from recession, was commendable but added that the oil production estimate for the 2018 budget was a highly optimistic one from the government.
Obadan emphasised that relative peace and stability in the oil-rich Niger-Delta region will guarantee the oil production estimate, which he noted had been recently capped by the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries for Nigeria and Libya to 1.8ml bpd.
Looking at 2018 as a pre-election year for Nigeria, Obadan shared that the inflation target of about 12.4 percent, from the current 15.9 percent, may not be realized.
The renowned economist called for the intensification and mobilization of the non-oil revenue base while curtailing public expenditure, which will be vital in their budget implementation. He charged the Federal Government to fully implement the capital expenditure component of the 2018 budget.
Andrew Nevin, chief economist at PricewaterhouseCoopers of Nigeria, shared that the implementation of the 2018 budget was not a fiscal stimulus to drive economic growth in Nigeria. Nevin said the government had the task of creating the enabling environment to attract private capital investments, to finance the economic recovery plan of the nation.
Tope Babalola of the research department at Proshare Nigeria emphasized the need for the Federal Government to rebalance its debt portfolio and address the lack of proper legal framework/valuation structure, which could pose a threat to maximizing independent revenue.
Babalola also tasked policy makers to chart a pathway that will improve private capital contribution to the gross capital formation in Nigeria. He stressed the need for Nigeria to give top priority to foreign direct investments inflows into the country, which, according to him, are real assets.