Amidst the unveiling of Nigeria’s 2024 budget proposal totaling N27.5 trillion, Ben Akabueze, the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, has voiced concerns that the allocated amount falls short of addressing the nation’s pressing economic demands.
In an interview with Channels TV on Wednesday, Akabueze expressed acknowledgment of the government’s commitment to responsible fiscal management, yet emphasized that the proposed budget is insufficient when considering the country’s extensive economic obligations.
“I’m always the first to acknowledge that the Federal Government’s budget is way too small relative to our needs and requirements,” Akabueze stated during the interview. “However, it’s now about tailoring our expenses to match our available resources, not merely the size.”
Highlighting the disparity between the budget allocation and the country’s economic necessities, Akabueze emphasized the limitations imposed by Nigeria’s modest public revenues.
“The reason for this limited budget is our constrained public revenues. It’s crucial to maintain focus on this aspect,” he emphasized.
Addressing the diverging perspectives between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the government’s economic growth projections, Akabueze contested the IMF’s evaluation, asserting that the government’s forecast is more realistic.
Contrary to the IMF’s estimation of a 3.1% economic growth rate for Nigeria in 2024, President Tinubu proposed a more optimistic figure of 3.76% during the budget presentation.
“In the last four years, the IMF has consistently erred in its projections for our economy. Our actual growth has consistently surpassed their forecasts,” Akabueze pointed out, indicating a recurring trend of the government outperforming the IMF’s estimations.
The 2024 budget proposal, introduced by Tinubu, includes a total projected revenue of N18.32 trillion and a deficit of N9.18 trillion. The delineation assigns N8.7 trillion to capital expenditure and N18.51 trillion to recurrent expenses.
The President also forecasted a 3.76% economic growth rate and anticipated a moderation of inflation to 21.4% for 2024.
In response, Akabueze underscored that the proposed budget aims to prioritize the welfare of the underprivileged, focusing on sectors such as healthcare, security, education, and overall economic growth.
The ongoing disparity between Nigeria’s economic demands and the budget proposal underscores the challenges faced in aligning available resources with the nation’s extensive needs, presenting a complex scenario for policymakers and stakeholders alike.