The delay in the presentation of the 2014 Appropriation bill by President Goodluck Jonathan to the National Assembly might worsen the standard of living among Nigerians, analysts have said.
The analysts, who spoke with our correspondent in separate telephone interviews on Thursday in Abuja, argued that with the delay, the level of corrupt practices might increase owing to the late implementation of capital votes.
Those who spoke to our correspondent on the issue included the Registrar of the Chartered Institute of Finance and Control, Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Eohoi; the Head, Research and Strategy, BGL Plc, Mr. Femi Ademola and the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Mr. Eze Onyekwere.
President Goodluck Jonathan had on Tuesday cancelled his visit to the National Assembly to present the estimates of the 2014 budget to a joint session of the legislature.
It was the second time in one week that the President’s visit was scuttled at the last minute.
The President said the failure of the two chambers to harmonise their differences on the crude oil benchmark of the budget had necessitated the cancellation.
While the Senate passed $76.5 per barrel as the benchmark, the House passed $79, consistent with the benchmark of the 2013 budget.
But Onyekwere while speaking on the implication of the delayed presentation said the country might in 2014 see a slowdown in the execution of capital projects.
He said, “As you have seen that the presentation of the urgent has been delayed and this. The basic implication is that instead of having 12 months we are now going to have about eight months and so capital projects would suffer because most of the money would only be available during the rainy season and before you know it, the year is gone.
“So capital projects will suffer and when this happen the standard of living will fall because capital projects are what impact on the standard of living.
“The second implication is that it will increase corruption in the sense that money will be surplus towards the end of the year, and the political class and civil servants will now start awarding all kinds of frivolous contracts to make sure they finish whatever resources was available.”
Also speaking, Ademola said the persistent delay in budget passage over the years had begun to have adverse effect on the way businesses were conducted in Nigeria.
He said, “It’s obvious that we are going to have a delay in the implementation of the 2014 budget and you know that we have never had a situation called government shutdown like we had in United States.
“We won’t have any problem with recurrent budget but what we are going to have problems with is in the area of capital projects because this is what business organisations rely on to make their own projections.
“A lot of plans are dependent on capital releases and if capital budget does not start early it will affect businesses because most of us look at the budget to make informed decisions and those are the effects it will have but you know, Nigerians are used to having the budget on time.”
In the same vein, Eohoi said apart from slowing down the execution of capital projects, investors and businesses who depended on the fiscal document to make their investment decisions would have to wait.
He said, “The economy suffers in many ways when the budget is not passed on time. The late passage of the budget affects the programmer of government especially in the area of capital implementation because funds for capital votes would be delayed.
“Apart from this, economic activities would be slowed down because investors and businesses that depend on the fiscal document to make investment decisions would have to wait. Delay in budget passage also affects the confidence of investors in the economy.”