As the waiting game between the Presidency and the National Assembly over the 2014 Budget continues, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said budget 2014 will be tight.
Confirming the fears of economic affairs watchers, the minister said: “We have a theme of fiscal consolidation with growth, which means we are going to direct the budget to those sectors that will give the most growth in the economy, and that means that we will tighten but at the same time priortise.
“All the infrastructural sectors are top priority for the President, and the budget will go towards supporting those sectors. In power, it will be transmission, as we are channelling a lot of resources into transmission.”
Analysts predicted that the Nigerian economy is expected to get a boost from agriculture, tax generation, automobile and the non-oil sector of the economy. These are seen to have become paramount as the population continues to grow with its attendant socio-economic challenges.
However, there are fears that as 2015 general elections beckons with the attendant flurry of campaign for the election, the authorities have also raised the possibility of fiscal overdrive with a consequent pressure on the naira.
The minister, who vowed that the present administration would not fold its hands and allow some characters to put the country under undue pressure, is expected to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to keep pressure over the local currency at bay.
Economic watchers had predicted a number of measures aimed at safeguarding the economy against pressure associated with a campaign year when politicians go on a spending spree.
The Presidency had warned the inability of the Senate and the House of Representatives to agree on the crude oil benchmark will delay the presentation of the 2014 budget by President Goodluck Jonathan.
It said disparity in the benchmark by both chambers will undermine the budget if it is presented by the President.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, who stated this at a press briefing, said “For the purpose of clarity and for the benefit of ordinary Nigerians, a budget is fundamentally predicated on annual projected total accruable revenue to the country.
“In simple terms, and with reference to Nigeria and in view of the fact that the bulk of our expected annual revenue is dependable on the sale of crude oil, it follows therefore that the total volume of sale of crude oil in a year, multiplied by a projected average crude oil price in the international market represents this bulk of our revenue.
“In the presentation of for the 2014 budget, and in accordance with projections in the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, the Federal Government initially proposed a $74 per barrel for crude oil.
“However, in the course of further consultations, some understanding evolved around $76.5 per barrel on which the budget was prepared.”