2019 budget an opportunity for private sector to thrive, says Akabueze

2019 budget an opportunity for private sector to thrive, says Akabueze
Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze

Worried by the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria’s economy, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, has said the proposed N8.83 trillion 2019 national budget presents opportunities for the organised private sector to strive.

Akabueze said this in a paper yesterday, entitled, “Business Opportunities in the Proposed 2019 Federal Government Budget: Prospects and Challenges for the Private Sector.”

The presentation was made at the 2019 Budget Round-Table in Kaduna, which was organised by the Kaduna Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KADCCIMA), in collaboration with Budget Research and Development Policy Advocacy Centre, and coalition of business organisations in Kaduna State.

Akabueze, who was represented by Gideon Mitu, Director Expenditure, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, explained that the federal government budget was not enough to fix infrastructure, however the focus of capital expenditure allocation in the proposal was based on the key priorities of the Emergency Recovery Growth Plan.

He identified the priority areas of government as agriculture and food security, improved transportation infrastructure, ensure energy sufficiency and drive industrialisation with focus on small and medium scale enterprises.

According to him, investment in these priority areas would be implemented in partnership with the private sector, which he described as the driver of economic growth.

Akabueze said, “About N90.9 billion is earmarked for achieving agriculture and food security, through the development of value chain across 30 different commodities including supply, production, processing, transportation, trading, marketing and export.

“The Federal Government also hoped to improve access to agricultural inputs and facilitate farm-firm linkage. The private sector could provide market, quality check and extension services, especially for small landholders.

“The budget also set aside N153.6 billion to ensure energy sufficiency. The private sector can invest in new power generation projects, especially small-scale off-grid projects.

He argued: “This will improve power generation, transmission and distribution which will reduce unit power costs, prices and increase demand and profitability.”

He also noted that N401.8 billion would be invested in improving transportation infrastructure, adding that some of the rail and road projects to be executed offer opportunities for public private sector partnerships.

“Construction of new airport terminal buildings also provides opportunities for business activities at the airports. Besides, private sector could invest in technological innovations that will greatly improve the operations of different transportation systems,” he said.

He equally said a total of N73.1 billion has been earmarked in the budget to drive industrialisation, by improving access to critical infrastructure and proving single digit interest loans to reduce cost of business operations.

Akabueze further maintained that the proposed 2019 Budget was designed to reposition the economy on the path of higher, inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth, and to continue to lift significant number of Nigerian citizens out of poverty.

“The Federal Government will continue to support initiatives that encourage small businesses to grow and create jobs through ensuring access to funding, supporting infrastructure and off-take arrangements by government and private enterprises,” he said.

In her remarks, the KADCCIMA President, Hajiya Muheeba Dankaka, said the forum was specifically designed to serve as a platform to exchange ideas and opinions on the 2019 proposed budget before the National Assembly.

According to her, such interaction will improve governments’ and the organised private sector understanding of the expectations, challenges and prospects of the budget.

Dankaka called on the National Assembly to accelerate the passage of the budget to sustain the recovery of the economy for sustainable growth.

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