Agriculture

NECA urges FG to curb wastages to fund budget

Mr Timothy Olawale, the Director-General of NECA, who gave the advice at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos, said the resources used to fund the maintenance of the refineries could be directed to fund this years’ budget.

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`By Chinyere Bassey
Lagos, Jan. 7, 2019 (NNN) The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has advised the Federal Government to block revenue wastage by putting an end to the annual turnaround maintenance of the old refineries.

Mr Timothy Olawale, the Director-General of NECA, who gave the advice at a stakeholders meeting in Lagos, said the resources used to fund the maintenance of the refineries could be directed to fund this years’ budget.

According to Olawale, the Federal Government should not waste money on the old refineries but rather encourage private investors in establishing modular refineries and deregulation of the downstream sector.

He reviewed the 2019 budget and expressed worry about its capacity to move the economy out of the woods, create jobs and improve the human capacity potential of Nigerians.

“As a matter of urgency, government must remove fuel subsidy which has become a conduit pipe for misappropriation of funds. It is not sustainable and we cannot continue to fund inefficiency,” the director-general said.

Olawale commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s timely submission of the Budget to National Assembly on Dec. 19, 2018 but said that the foundation on which it was built was worrisome.

He said the budget was benchmarked against 60 dollars per barrel of oil at 2.3mili litres daily at an exchange rate of N305 to one dollar.

“This is an inflation rate of 9.98 per cent and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 3.01 percent.

“These assumptions negate the reality of oil price volatility. Oil industry experts had warned that the political dynamics of the Middle East might drive down the price of Crude.

“Today, a barrel of crude sells for 54 dollars, six dollars less than the benchmarked price and it is yet unknown how government will increase the present 2.09mbpd Crude production to 2.3mbpd in 2019,” the NECA director-general said.

According to him, a cursory look at budgetary allocation to some critical sectors raises germane questions about the country’s readiness to address certain fundamental questions.

He said that human capital development was critical to a nations development, therefore, that education was allocated N462.24 billion, less than six per cent of the entire budget was not good enough.

“This is a far cry from the UNESCO’s benchmark of 26 per cent of the national budget. The N315.62 billion, which represents a meagre 4.1 per cent of the budget tends to negate this mantra.

“This allocation also contrasts the pledge made by member countries of the African Union (AU) to commit a minimum of 15 percent of their annual budget to their health sectors,” he said.

Olawale urged the government to do a holistic review of the budget assumptions, especially since it would soon receive the attention of the National Assembly. (NNN)
CHIN/AOS/PDE
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(Edited by Bayo Sekoni/Peter Ejiofor)

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