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Budget 2017: Implementation is key

Budget 2017: Implementation is key
July 06
17:26 2017

BY LOUIS OKOROMA

It is a welcome relief to all Nigerians, that at long last, the 2017 budget has been signed and sealed. What remains to be done is for all hands to be on deck for a resounding delivery. The executive and the national legislature deserve accolade for a job well done, bearing in mind how problematic getting budgets on track has been in recent times.

The 2017 budget is very important to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his hardworking deputy, Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo who is doing so much to improve the business and economic
climate in the country.

The importance of the 2017 budget, lies in the fact that if the government can achieve between 60-70 per cent implementation, the nation’s economy would surely experience a new lease of life that would set it strongly on the road to exiting the stifling recession that currently ravages our economy. Second, successful implementation of the budget especially as it concerns delivery of the laudable and ambitious infrastructural development projects, would open up the economy and energise economic activities all through the nooks and crannies of the country.

One aspect of the budget that highly recommends it for faithful implementation, is that it has so much for all parts of the country and faithful implementation would mean that the country would be on the highway to greater economic integration and complementarity.

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The budget of N7.44 trillion signed into law by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is quite ambitious. The huge estimate is not a surprise because so much is expected from the budget at the end of the financial year and beyond. It is expected that as the implementation of the budget kicks off, many Nigerians would be put to work in various sectors, thus reducing the ravaging unemployment while critical infrastructure would hopefully be spread to all parts of the country. It is heartening that the funds for executing the budget are available unlike in previous budgets when the paucity of funds has adversely compromised the implementation. The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has allayed fears in this regard by promising that N350 billion would be immediately released for the execution of capital projects across the country.

And to minimise and avoid waste, her counterpart in Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, hinted that funding of projects would now be on project-based release system whereby, funds would be released for a particular project after the government has ascertained that it can be completed within a given time frame. The beauty of this is that wastages would be curbed and the rate at which projects are abandoned in the country, drastically reduced.

Minister Udo Udoma, also revealed that the Federal Government would “strengthen its monitoring and evaluation framework to improve physical inspection and impact assessment of projects and programmes implemented by the MDAs”. Apparently, these MDAs are responsible for much of the abandoned and poorly conceived projects that dot the landscape and make the country ugly. According to Udo Udoma, “… we have to do things differently. We need to have more targeted releases. We have to look at the projects that are important and can be easily completed. The Ministers are working together to ensure that over time, we concentrate our resources on completing important projects, so that we can have maximum impact’’. This means that we are in an era of serious governance and service delivery when government embarks on projects only when it is assured of its value and feasibility.

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The 2017 budget is highly loaded on the provision of infrastructure. This is in keeping with President Muhammadu Buhari’s keen interest in transforming the nation’s economy from recession to a dynamic and active economy where people, goods and services have means and ease of movement.

A whooping sum of N10 billion has been set aside for the construction of over 65 roads and bridges to enhance transportation in the country. These would include roads, rail, waterways and airports.

As part of its targeted project implementation and release of funds, some of the strategic roads for which the money have been set aside have been identified. They are but not restricted to the Lagos/Ibadan road, Kano/Maiduguri road and the Enugu/Port Harcourt road. It also includes the Second Niger Bridge for which the sum of N7 billion was set aside.

Other critical road projects that will change the transportation experience of Nigerians when completed, include Abuja/Abaji/Lokoja road, Obajana junction-Benin road, Onitsha/Enugu dual carriageway which got an impressive allocation of N7.5 billion and N7 billion for the Bodo/Boni road. There is also Ilorin/Jebba, Odukpani-Itu, Kano/Katsina and Gombe/Numan/Yola etc.

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The above shows that the 2017 budget was well thought out moreso when the funding for projects would not be a problem. Remarkably, government has mobilised the Federal Internal Revenue Service and the Department of
Customs to strive hard on revenue collection to aid the availability of funds while hopefully, modest oil revenue is guaranteed following steady improvement in oil production in the Niger Delta.

Though the 2017 budget is ambitious and revolutionary in the area of transportation infrastructure, other sectors of the economy also got a good deal. Over a hundred billion is set aside to provide water and sanitation across the country through construction and rehabilitation of dams and irrigation projects. Similarly, agriculture and rural
development got good allocations. About 6.5 billion naira has been earmarked for water sanitation while the sum of 4.13 billion and 20 billion naira would be used to guarantee minimum price payment to farmers to encourage farming and promote and develop value chain for a number of commodities, respectively.

The 2017 budget could be referred to as “a budget of inclusion and reconstruction”, given that there is something in it for all parts of the country and it is geared to change the face of the country with new projects. It thus behoves on all Nigerians of goodwill to use their best endeavours to see that peace reign in the country and that contractors and workers on site nationwide are given maximum cooperation. Not much can be accomplished in the area of development if there is no peace.

One hereby call on all agitators, militants and radicals across the country of whatever hue, to spare a thought for the long- suffering and exploited people of our country, by identifying with the government’s economic recovery efforts as contained in Budget 2017 and support its diligent implementation.

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Okoroma, a public affairs consultant, sent in this piece from Abuja. He can be reached via [email protected]

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