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Unemployment: Experts express concerns over N50bn budgetary allocation

By on March 26, 2011

While Nigerians wait on President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan�s assent to the 2011 national budget recently passed into law by the legislature, financial experts and social critics have continued to express deep concern over what they described as paltry budgetary allocation to curbing the menace of unemployment in the country.

Stakeholders in the campaign for job creation have continued to voice reservations on the ability of the N50 billion set aside to fight unemployment in an economy with wobbling manufacturing sector.

Although it was argued that every segment of the budgetary appropriations has something to contribute in curbing unemployment, experts still expressed worry on economy of breakdown on how, where and when the N50 billion will be disbursed.

The 2011 Appropriation Act did not provide enough details as in sectors the fund will be channeled into for the sake of creating jobs or the number of jobs been targeted.

President Jonathan it would be recalled had presented a budget proposal of N4.22 trillion to the National Assembly in December 2010. But the lawmakers in their wisdom jerked up the harmonised budget to N4.97 trillion, an increase of N751 billion or 17 per cent over the original size and passed same last week.

Baring his mind on the budget, Dr Samuel Nzekwe, immediate past President of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), said apart from the fact that the 2011 budget did not address issues of infrastructure development headlong, he commended the N50 billion that was earmarked for job creation, but expressed regret that modalities for job creation were not explained in the budget either.

“The rate of unemployment in the country over the years has been worrisome and needs urgent attention of the Federal Government,” he said, adding that what the country needs is an empowered real sub-sector of the economy that can create jobs.

Corroborating Nzekwe�s view, Director of Economic Research at the Africa Environmental & Economic Peace Mission (AEEPM) in Lagos, Mr. Chinedu Ntigbu expressed fears that the budget failed to add value to efforts of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) members in creating conducive production environment vide massive upgrade of the failing infrastructure systems across the country and mainly major industrial cities.

“Nigeria in the last few years had lost over 5,000 companies that closed shop due to cost of production and excruciating multiple tax regimes,” Ntigbu noted, saying the 2011 budget did not show any reservations to that development considering the poor allocation to the sector.

Besides, details of the 2011 showed that whereas Defence Ministry got the highest allocation of N380.47 billion, education sector followed closely with N 365.88 billion. While the health sector received N266.73 billion, the health sector received N266.73 billion as the Niger Delta �Boys� will have to make do with N44.51 billion on “the payment of stipends and feeding allowances, reintegration of the ex-Niger Delta militants, operations cost of the programme, reintegration of transformed ex-militants in 2010; reinsertion/transition safety allowance for 20,192 transformed ex-militants (2010 arrears) and additional allocations for 6 ,166 ex- militants.”

Earlier, Senate Committee chairman on Appropriation, Iyiola Omisore had explained that oil benchmark is pegged at $75 per barrel, on a premise that crude oil production be steady at 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) whereas joint venture production stands at .4 billion and seven per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) relying on exchange rate of N150.

According him, the projections were made after a discussion with the Federal Ministry of Finance, the revenue generating agencies and the Senate Committee on Finance.

Relying on the permutations that country could trust on the Sovereign Wealth Fund, which would warehouse the excess crude fund henceforth, Omisore said the policy thrust of the 2011 is premised on government�s determination to establish and strengthen “sound micro-economic environment that Nigeria needs to ensure the prosperity of our citizens.”

This, according to him, will attract investment, facilitate private sector growth, boost employment generation and ensure wealth creation, and other socio-economic development goals under the Vision 20:2020.

Source : Daily Champion