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Financial experts lament 2018 Budget delay, MPC confirmation

Sheriffdeen Tella, Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, said that fiscal and monetary policies were important in driving major economic activities.

In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the stakeholders said the continued delay arising from the lingering impasse between the executive and legislature was affecting the nation’s development.

Tella said that the blame game between the executive and the legislature in budget passage and MPC members’ confirmation were not in the nation’s interest.

“The fiscal policy side is held to ransom, the monetary side is also in limbo by not approving members that should consider and approve the CBN monetary policy proposals.

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“These are the two major economic policies that drive economic activities,” Tella said.

He observed that further delay in the passage of the 2018 budget, and by implication delay in implementation, would have negative effects on the country’s economic growth.

He said the nation’s interest should be of paramount interest to elected public office holders.

“There is the need for a change of attitude for the economy to move forward, and in the right direction,” he said.

The don lamented that it was disheartening that the budget had not been approved since November 2017, because of budget defence by ministers and directors.

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He said that the nation should not be held to ransom because of budget defence, noting that the Minister of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udo-Udoma, and his officials be invited for clarification if the need arises.

Mallam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd., noted that the nation’s recovery from recession would have been accelerated if the 2018 budget was released on time.

Kurfi said that budget approval and implementation were critical to investment decisions and enhanced economic activities.

He said the first quarter would soon end without budget approval, noting that it was not good for the country’s quest for both local and foreign investors.

Kurfi called for urgent political solution to the looming crisis, saying the economy was suffering with the muscle-flexing between the executive and the legislature.

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NAN reports that the MPC meeting earlier scheduled for Jan. 22 and 23 was cancelled due to the non-confirmation of the MPC nominees by the Senate.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in October 2017, nominated Mrs Aisha Ahmad as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

He also sought the confirmation of Mr Adeola Adenikinju, Mr Aliyu Sanusi, Mr Robert Asogwa and Mrs Asheikh Maidugu as members of the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee, but the Senate has yet to confirm the nominees.

The Second Schedule of the CBN Act (Section 12(5) and 54, stipulates that the MPC shall meet at least four times in a year, and that the quorum shall be six members; two of whom shall be the Governor and a Deputy Governor or two Deputy Governors.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had allayed fears of Nigerians and the international community over the inability to hold MPC meeting for January.

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A statement signed by Emefiele in Abuja explained that the meeting was cancelled due to the non-confirmation of the MPC nominees by the Senate.

He said that the MPC meeting for January did not hold due to the bank’s inability to form a quorum as stipulated in the CBN Act 2007.

Emefiele said the CBN would continue to maintain the key monetary variables as decided in the last MPC meeting of November 2017.

The apex bank’s governor said that a revised schedule of the meetings for the MPC would be communicated as soon as the bank met the statutory requirements of membership and quorum for the MPC.

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