By Ige Adekunle
Sango-Ota (Ogun) – A financial expert, Dr Samuel Nzekwe, has lauded the National Assembly for the timely passage of the 2020 Appropriation Bill.
Nzekwe, also a former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), made the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ota, Ogun, on Friday.
NAN reports that the 2020 Appropriation Bill of N10.3 trillion, presented by President Muhammadu Buhari on Oct. 8, was increased to N10.6 trillion by the National Assembly while passing it.
Details of the 2020 Appropriation Bill include: Recurrent Expenditures-N4.84 trillion, Capital Expenditures-N2.46 trillion, and Debt Servicing-N2.72 trillion.
NAN also reports that this is the first time since 1999 that the nation’s annual budget would be passed within 60 days.
Nzekwe said that the early passage of 2020 Appropriation Bill was a welcome development, saying that it would return the nation to January to December circle of annual budget.
“The Federal Government’s effort of bringing the nation’s annual budget to normal cycle of January to December is commendable, if it is effectively implemented,’’ Nzekwe said.
The former ANAN president advised the Federal Government to intensity efforts in ensuring that the January to December cycle was sustained and maintained in order to achieve objectives of the budget.
Nzekwe said the National Assembly should not have increased the benchmark of oil from 55 dollars to 57 dollars because the price was being determined by external forces or international market.
He stressed the need for the Federal Government to redouble efforts in reducing the funds being used to service debts so that more funds could be made available to build capital projects.
“How do we fund the building of critical infrastructure like electricity, road networks and water, if the nation continues to spend over 25 per cent of its annual budgets on debts servicing,’’ he said.
Nzekwe said that this development would make it difficult for manufacturers to compete favourably in term of qualities and prices with goods coming into the country.
The former ANAN president stressed the need to focus on building critical infrastructure by reducing borrowing that were mainly used for recurrent expenditures in order to bring down high rate of debts servicing.
He called on the Federal Government to put in place effective policing of the nation’s borders so that the projection of 10.8 per cent for inflation rate in 2020 budget could be achievable.
Nzekwe noted that the increase in inflation rate, which translated to rising in prices of goods and services, could be traced to the closure of the nation’s borders. (NAN)