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2018 budget is worse than nonsense, says Akintunde

Akintunde said Buhari's 2018 budget is about N10 trillion and grossly unrealistic.

In an interview on the Osasu Show, Akintude described the 2018 budget estimate as grossly unrealistic.

He expressed worry over Nigeria’s growing debt burden given the poor implementation of the 2017 budget despite the huge borrowings.

His words: “My assessment is that the 2018 budget is worse than nonsense. This budget is exactly what it is given the fact that this government wants to revert to the January-December circle of budget making.

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“If you then look at the statement by the finance minister, that the 2017 budget will be rolled over into 2018, then I will tell you that the total budget that will be implemented in 2018 is not N8.6 trillion but somewhere around N10 trillion.

“50% of the capital vote for 2017 will be carried over into 2018. There are consequences for this. We continue to borrow money to fund these budgets that are grossly unrealistic.

“What you find is that whereas, time passes and these budgets are not implemented but you have the record of what you owe creditors.

“Year in year out, we continue like this and see a rapid build-up of public debt in Nigeria. In the last two years, the public debt increased by N6.3trn.”

Akintunde urged the federal government to automate the budget process.

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“The key issue with these budgets is not implementation. I don’t think it is implementation. It is actually the fact that there is a high degree of absent mindedness that goes into the budget making such that it is dead on arrival in terms of meeting its objectives.

“The budget is an estimate but it must be near exact estimate. It cannot be some wide figures just being abandoned about.

“Nigeria is now sitting on a time bomb, a public debt time bomb.  In my understanding, an aspect of it has detonated.

“Two years ago, government started an aggressive borrowing in the domestic debt packet. Government single handedly overheated the domestic debt packet. That policy was so short sighted that it did not anticipate that two years on, it will be unsustainable.

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“Now they tell us they want to shift focus. They want to re-balance the domestic and foreign debt portfolio in favour of the latter.

“But in one, two, three years down the line, if they follow through with this foreign debt plan, they will also hit the same situation that we have hit with the domestic debt market. They will not be able to borrow money.

“The truth is that we need to bring honesty to a budgeting process. Some the proposals I have written with regards to how to reform the budgetary process will make it very possible for the budget to be passed in 10 days.

“If you automate the budget process, it will eliminate the duplication and replication of budget items,” Akintunde added.

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