EDITORIAL: The 2020 budget should focus on lifting Nigerians out of poverty

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IMPACT NEWS is impressed and commends the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari making the budget circle January-December. We also give kudos to both chambers of the National Assembly for their commitment to the passage of the budget in record time. The combined effort of both the executive and the legislative arms of the government shows that the political leadership would achieve whatever they intend to for the betterment of the country and the alleviation of the suffering of the common man.

President Buhari while presenting the budget proposal to the National Assembly said the country’s economy has recorded nine consecutive quarters of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. The “annual growth increased from 0.82 percent in 2017 to 1.93 percent in 2018, and 2.02 percent in the first half of 2019.” He also said that his government has succeeded in significantly reducing inflation from a peak of 18.72 percent in January 2017, to 11.02 percent by August 2019 through effective fiscal and monetary policy coordination, exchange rate stability and sensible management of the nation’s foreign exchange.

According to him, the external reserves have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to about $42.5 billion by August 2019 dues to the favourable prices of crude oil in the international market, minimal disruption of crude oil production as a result of the stable security situation in the Niger Delta.

With all this positive narratives, the common man on the street is yet to feel the economic impact of the government fiscal and economic policies. Perhaps the narratives are foundation for such impact in the sure near future. If they truly are, government must have it at the back of its mind that Nigerians cannot wait to feel such impacts.

Towards the dusk of 2018, the Brookings Institution released a report that revealed that Nigeria overtook India as the country with the highest number of poor persons in the world. According to the report, there are about 89 million poor people in Nigeria, a proportion of almost 50 percent of the whole population.  The government must know that the economic narratives have little or no impact on ordinary Nigerians. Until it begins to do that, then Nigeria is well rooted in poverty, misery and national economic hardship.

The government claimed to have spent billions of naira on the power sector, yet most Nigerian villages are yet to have access to power supply. The recent statement by the Minister of Power, Engr. Saleh Mamman that the Chief Executive Officers of Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) were relieved of their duties due to non-performance is a wholesome indictment on the leadership of this country.

The health sector remains critical to economic sustainability and development. However, basic primary Health care services are a luxury few Nigerians have access to. A visit to most Primary Health Cares (PHCs) across the country shows decay, neglect, rot, and a clear indication of mere verbal commitment to universal health coverage.

Nigerians may go into the New Year with various financial burdens from the government with the planed increment of the Value Added Tax (VAT), increment in light bill and others.

The federal government must ensure that the 2020 budget as approved by the National Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammdu Buhari is implemented with the economic libration and elevation of Nigerians at the core.

The failure of the 2020 budget with the new budget circle would portray the Buhari-led government as one with no solution to the economic challenges facing the country.

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