2018 Budget: ACCI Wants Prompt Release Of Funds

The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) have added its voice to the Nigeria’s 2018 budget estimates saying, the presentation is a remarkable departure from the past but called on the authorities to ensure that, its capital releases are done in good time to fast track implementation.

This is contained in an official statement from the Chamber which quoted its President, Mr. Tony Ejinkeonye.

The statement which was signed by Chamber signed the Media and Protocol Officer of the Chamber, Gena Reuben Lubem recalled that President Muhammad Buhari presented the 2018 budget estimates to the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, 7th November, 2017 during which he also used to occasion to inform the nation of the journey so far made as regards the 2017 budget implementation.

The rest of the statement reads: “The Chamber is also of the utmost belief that the economy requires significant fiscal injections to sustain and accelerate Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) put in place by the present administration.

“With the significant investment in infrastructure, education and agriculture, among others, there is also hope that the country’s efforts in diversifying Nigeria’s economy, revenue and export base is to be sustained.

“The N8.6 trillion proposed budget for 2018 which was tagged “Budget of Consolidation” appears to be a budget for infrastructural development, this will no doubt enhance economic growth.
The capital aspect of the budget is an indication that sizeable resources have been allocated to capital expenditure, which, means more effect will be felt in this regard as compared to the previous years where only lip service was given to the matter.

“The promise to expedite work on critical projects like the Second Niger Bridge, East West Road, North-East Road and railway projects in the country is no doubt a welcome development.
The major highlight of the 2018 budget shows that N8.612 trillion, N3.49 trillion, N2.014, N46 billion and N220 billion has been allocated for recurrent expenditure, capital expenses, debt servicing, statutory transfers and sinking to retire monetary bonds, respectively.

“While the Chamber wishes to express satisfaction with the journey so far made as was stated by the President while presenting the budget to National Assembly, we particularly noticed that one of the critical issues therein was the budget circle.

“As it stands today, the 2017 national budget is still under implementation and there is every tendency that it may last till June 2018, yet the President in his wisdom announced that the 2018 budget will commence implementation from January, 2018.

“This to ACCI will not only introduce some elements of confusion on the way it is carried out as it may be difficult to appropriately track each of the budgets except urgent and responsible measures are put in place to comprehensively take care of this.

“Be that as it may, ACCI believes the projections are achievable, provided the Niger Delta region, which produces the oil wealth is managed in a manner that would not amount to disruption to daily production of crude oil.

“Another area of concern is release of funds to the appropriate quarters for execution of projects to enable them carry out statutory responsibilities. It needs not emphasized that, such delays have caused untold delays in budget execution which, over the years, have been abysmally low.

“In the interim, the Chamber believes, if the environment is made conducive for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) who oils the wheels of the engine of growth of many economies across the world, the effect would trickle down to the people in the grassroots and that will also go a long way in expanding the integration base of the country.

“The Chamber also call on all Nigerians to ensure that all hands are on the deck to ensure that the genuine intention of the 2018 appropriation is not wished away, just as it also enjoin the National Assembly to expedite work on the document”.