Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has rubbished the 2019 budget proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nigerian leader, last Wednesday, proposed N8.83 trillion to the National Assembly amid a rowdy session.
Tagged ‘Budget of Sustenance’, the proposed budget for next year is less than the existing one, which is N9.12tn.
Buhari proposed an oil benchmark of $60 per barrel with a daily production output of 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd), with the exchange rate pegged at 305 US dollars.
But Atiku, who is challenging Buhari for Nigeria’s highest office in 2019, believes that the proposed budget ”deliberately ignores and fails to address current realities.’
Analysing the content of the proposed budget in an article issued by his office, the former vice president noted that it would be a disservice to Nigeria if Nigerians ignored the ”fundamental flaws” in the document that Buhari presented to federal lawmakers.
”Several inaccurate claims litter the budget document – all, I think, in an attempt for Mr. President to whitewash the regime and hide their monumental failure to improve, even minimally, the welfare and living standards of much of the population. I see the rhetoric of ‘inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth’ as no more than an amplification of the APC-led government’s renewed propaganda to hoodwink the citizens into believing that there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’,” part of the article read.
”Few of these claims by Mr. President are that ‘we have recorded several successes in economic management’, that ‘the economy has recovered from recession’, that ‘foreign capital inflows including direct and portfolio investments (have) responded to improved economic management and that ‘we have had a sustained accretion to foreign exchange reserves’ etc.
”In reality, the economy is yet to recover from the 2016/2017 recession as it remains SEVERELY STRESSED, extremely fragile and vulnerable to external shocks. GDP growth declined from 2.11% in 2017 to 1.9% in Q1 and to 1.5% in Q2 of 2018. In Q3 of 2018 there was only a marginal increase of 0.3% to 1.8%.
In its current form, the local economy is not dynamic enough to journey to their so-called NEXTLEVEL. For the year 2019, a general slowdown in the real growth rates of economic activity in both the oil and non-oil sectors has been projected at 1.9% by the World Bank. This rate is well below the 2019 budget projection of 3.01% and is not enough to create the needed jobs for the growing population of the country or for the attainment of the SDGs,” he added.
Atiku also said: ”So, contrary to Mr. President’s assertion, capital importation actually shrinks! In reality Mr. President should expect no less. It is a fact that under his watch and resulting from his actions or inactions, investor confidence in the economy has waned like never before in Nigeria’s history. Nigeria remains an uncompetitive economy as demonstrated by the recent World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Competitiveness Index which positions Nigeria as 115th of 140 Countries. The Report shows that Nigeria has moved three places down, contrary to Mr. President’s claim that ‘we are moving in the right direction’. Nigeria remains one of the most difficult places to do business as evidenced by the massive outflows of capital in recent times.
”Yes, we have seen some increases in gross reserves. However, the so-called ‘successes’ recorded did not emanate from any coherent and comprehensive economic policies of the Federal Government. The ‘sustained accretion’ to foreign exchange reserves resulted from increases in international prices of Brent Crude and foreign borrowing. Given our total dependence on the oil sector for foreign exchange earnings, any turbulence in the international oil market will lead to reversals.
”This cannot be counted as ‘success’. The acclaimed ‘success’ was simply by the Grace of God.”