Organised Private Sector decries persistent late passage of national budgets

By Chinyere Bassey

#TrackNigeria: The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) on Monday said that the continuous delays in the passage of the annual national budgets was hampering capital expenditure and national economic development.
Mr Timothy Olawale, Director General, NECA, told newsmen at a forum in Lagos that the habit of passing the annual budgets late, if allowed to continue, would retard the economy.

“NECA decries the recurring delays in the passage of the annual national budgets, which appear to have become a culture.

“It is disheartening and worrisome. The continuous delays in budget passage year-on-year is a major source of concern to the Organised Private Sector (OPS),’’ Olawale said.

The director-general said that the importance of quick passage of the budget could not be over-emphasised, saying that it played a critical role in economic development.

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He said that since 2014, the earliest time the budget was passed was in March 2016, whereas Nigeria’s fiscal year began in January and ended in December.

“We cannot begin to imagine the consequences of the late passage of the budgets on national development and business growth.

“For some years now, the process leading to the approval and passage of the budget in Nigeria has been a victim of the proverbial fighting of two elephants.

“Capital expenditure, which to a large extent plays a major role in economic development, suffers,’’ he said.

The NECA boss said that infrastructural reforms, which are meant to attract investments and improve the lives of the populace, are put on hold and business decisions, which could translate to expansion and employment, are frustrated.

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He said that a time frame should be given which should be strictly followed to give importance to the early passage of the budget.

“There should be a defined time as seen in other countries like Ghana, when the annual national budget will be passed.

“Ghana’s budget for the 2019 fiscal year was approved in November 2018. In Ethiopia, the budget for the 2018/2019 fiscal year was approved few days before the commencement of the fiscal year in July 2018.

“Similarly in Egypt, the budget for its 2018/2019 fiscal year was approved about a month to the commencement of the fiscal year.

“The stability and predictability of the budgetary process of these countries could be one of the reasons why they are becoming the new desired destination for foreign investments,’’ Olawale said.

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He urged lawmakers to give the 2019 budget the utmost importance it required because budget passage should not suffer at the expense of politics.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) is the umbrella organisation of employers in the Organised Private Sector.

It was formed in 1957 to provide the forum for the Government to consult with private sector employers on socio-economic and labour policy issues. (NAN)

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