2019 budget: N8.9 trillion inadequate to service 200 million Nigerians – expert

President Buhari presents 2019 Budget to the National Assembly on 19th Dec 2018-5

Dr Patricia Auta, a financial analyst, has described the 2019 budget as inadequate to meet the needs of the Nigerian population, which is put at more than 200 million.

Auta said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

She advised the government to work on increasing the size of the budget in 2020, even “if we have to borrow more money to finance it.’’

According to her, government’s debt to the country’s Gross Domestic Project (GDP) is relatively low, therefore, government should take advantage of that and borrow more for infrastructure development.

She, however, said that the spending must be on financially viable sectors and not on salaries, allowances and overhead.

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“The addition of N90 billion to the 2019 budget by the National Assembly would have been acceptable if it was to go to productive sectors, but as it is, it is money down the drain.

“Nigeria needs to focus on improving its tax revenues. Tax holds a lot of potential for the country. Government needs to figure out how to tax the informal sector directly.

“It’s a fact that many small businesses are not registered, therefore, they do not pay direct taxes such as company and income tax. The only tax they pay is VAT and it’s not enough.

“There is a lot of revenue to be gained if government finds a way of bringing in the millions of MSMEs operating in the country into its tax net,’’ she said.

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Auta also advised the government to reduce its recurrent spending, which remains high at 80 per cent of overall spending.

The Senate passed the 2019 Appropriation Bill of N8.92 trillion on April 30.

The Legislature increased the budget by N90 billion from the N8.83 trillion presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 18, 2018.

The Statutory Transfer stood at N502 billion, Fiscal Deficit, N1.9 trillion, Special Intervention N500 billion, Recurrent Expenditure N4 trillion, Capital Expenditure, N2 trillion and Deficit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.37 per cent.

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