Finance and Planning Ministers Defend Nigeria's 2024 Budget, Emphasize Fiscal Responsibility - The Top Society

Finance and Planning Ministers Defend Nigeria’s 2024 Budget, Emphasize Fiscal Responsibility

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, rallied support for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration’s borrowing plan as presented in the 2024 appropriation bill. The ministers, along with some opposition federal lawmakers, expressed confidence in the budget, asserting that it addresses the country’s economic challenges.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja after Tinubu’s budget presentation to the National Assembly, Edun highlighted the importance of borrowing efficiently and sustainably. He noted the reduction in borrowing and deficit as a percentage of the GDP, viewing it as a positive move towards economic stability.

Edun said, “It is a good thing to borrow efficiently, sensibly and sustainably. What we need to look at is that borrowing is down and the deficit is also down. It’s just about three per cent of the GDP.

“That is a major move in the right direction to reduce dependence on borrowing and stabilise the economy.

“We are definitely going in the right direction as far as this budget is concerned. It will guarantee economic stability of government finances and the economy as a whole.”

Bagudu echoed Edun’s sentiments, expressing optimism about the proper implementation of the budget. He emphasized the decrease in the deficit compared to the previous year, considering it a significant milestone.

He said, “I have no doubt that the 2024 budget proposal, once passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the president, will be implemented properly.

“The deficit of N9 trillion may sound high but if you compare it to that of last year, which is over N13 trillion, this is a significant milestone because it has absolutely lower deficit.”

Edun further reassured the public that the N27.5 trillion 2024 budget proposal was built on realistic assumptions, aiming to reduce dependence on borrowing. He outlined the shift in focus from unlimited borrowing to prudent expenditure management, with the goal of increasing tax-to-GDP from under 10% to about 18% in the coming years.

He said, “The budget is N27.5 trillion and what I think is critical is that this budget is based on assumptions, which are realistic. It is based on projections, which I think is okay to the average person and reasonable. Therefore, it is something that we can expect to be successfully implemented.

“The breakdown of different elements shows the direction of this administration in order to stabilise the Nigerian economy for rapid inclusive growth. There is going to be less reliance on borrowing.

“The budget deficit is being brought down to about 6.1 per cent to GDP to 3.88 per cent of GDP. That is a huge change in direction from unlimited borrowing to focusing on revenue and expenditure management. There will be value for money on expenditure and increase revenue.

“The key target is to increase tax to GDP from under 10 per cent to 18 per cent in a couple of years. That target, a hugely ambitious one, is what we need to meet to reduce reliance on borrowings.

“Likewise debt service as a proportion of revenue is expected to fall. The budget is rallying up the economy for domestic and foreign investment to come in and this would be achieved through public private partnerships and even privatisation are mentioned in this budget.”

Highlighting the budget’s emphasis on stabilizing the economy, Edun mentioned a substantial reduction in debt-to-GDP from 6.1% in 2023 to 3.88% in 2024. He encouraged the public to expect successful implementation, stressing the administration’s commitment to attracting both local and foreign investors.
Senator Bagudu provided a breakdown of the budget proposal, revealing a significant allocation of N2.18 trillion (7.9%) to education and N3.25 trillion to defense. He noted that the health sector would receive five percent (N1.33 trillion) of the budget, with a focus on both capital and recurrent expenditures.
Despite the optimism, the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, explained the delayed budget presentation, citing the transition year from one government to another. He emphasized the importance of the budget as the government’s key economic statement.
Opposition federal lawmakers, including Hon. Pascal Agbodike and Hon. Ikenga Ugochinyere, expressed hope and support for the 2024 budget. Agbodike assured constructive scrutiny by the legislature, while Ugochinyere praised President Tinubu’s commitment to tax reforms, increased revenue generation, and infrastructure development.
As the budget undergoes legislative scrutiny, stakeholders remain cautiously optimistic about its potential to address economic challenges and foster sustainable growth.
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