By Lucy Nwachukwu
A financial expert, Dr Azuka Chukwuma, has described the fiscal assumptions and parameters set for the 2018 budget as not being feasible.
Chukwuma, a consultant with Roifilia Firm, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that the parameters were set without proper consideration of the unsteady economic situation.
NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2018 budget proposal to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The benchmark oil price was set at 45 dollars per barrel, oil production estimated at 2.3 million barrels per day, exchange rate of N305 to the dollar, real GDP growth of 3.5 per cent and inflation rate of 12.4 per cent.
Chukwuma said: “we are in a market that is not steady and the parameters as far as am concerned are not real because tomorrow or in the next few days something may cripple in and the price of oil will decline.
“They should have given some gap such that even if there is a decline, it will not badly affect the budget.
“We cannot be leaving on presumptions which are not real, a market is a place where buying and selling are conducted and you must bear in mind that there are certain forces that control the market.
“Such forces may be foreign exchange, wars, earthquake all these things are things you cannot control; they can cripple in within the year of our budget and we will have nothing to do than to adjust.
Chukwuma urged the government to concentrate on bettering the lives and wellbeing of Nigerians, rather than focus on consolidation as pronounced in the 2018 budget proposal.
“The government should concentrate on diversifying the economy more as we are still 100 per cent dependent on oil and they should also work towards resolving the insecurity crises in the country.
“We are not fully out of recession, cost of food and transportation are still very high, no light, not to mention our unemployed graduates roaming the streets, these are some of the things government should focus on,’’ he said.
He said his expectations for the 2018 budget was for government to make room for the development of individual in terms of job creation, provisions of infrastructure like roads, power and the like.
According to him, there is nothing really new in the 2018 budget as the budget did not explain specific capital projects in which the budget will handle and this is not good enough.
“The budget is an estimate of what you are going to derive and spend within a period of time and you must be specific so that critics and analysts will know where you are heading to.
“Although, maybe when the budget will be broken down, we will not only have the summary as we have it now so that we will know exactly where we are going to.
Chukwuma urged the government and its officials to ensure the use of naira rather than its equivalent in the dollar for better understanding of all Nigerians.
According to him, government officials use the dollar to deceive Nigerians, but “we are not operating in dollars, so anything you tell us should be in naira as many of us do not know the values in dollar.
On the 2017 budget, Chukwuma expressed worry over the final outcome of the budget.
“What had happened to the 2017. It has not been fully utilised. Are they going to discountenance it or are they going to include it in the new budget?”