Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar says the proposed budget of the Muhammadu Buhari administration for 2019 is built on a ‘shaky foundation’.
He said this in a critique entitled ‘My Takeaways from Budget 2019’ obtained by Channels Television on Sunday.
“The proposed budget as presented is fundamentally flawed,” said the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). “It deliberately ignores and fails to address current realities and pretends, as Mr President asserts, ‘we are on the right direction.”
He added, “On the contrary, the 2019 budget is built on a very shaky foundation and makes very generous, often wild and untenable assumptions which pose significant risks to its implementation.”
President Buhari had presented a budget proposal of N8.83 trillion for 2019 to a joint session of the National Assembly on December 19, 2018.
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The former vice president believes it will be a disservice to the nation if the “fundamental flaws” are ignored.
He accused the Presidency of filling the budget proposal with several inaccurate claims and making attempts to hide its failure to improve the welfare and living standards of Nigerians.
“I see the rhetoric of ‘inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth’ as no more than an amplification of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government’s renewed propaganda to hoodwink the citizens into believing that there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel,” Atiku alleged.
According to him, the economy has yet to recover from the 2016/2017 recession as it remains “severely stressed, extremely fragile and vulnerable to external shocks.”
The PDP candidate said the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth declined from 2.11 per cent in 2017 to 1.9 per cent in Q1, and to 1.5 per cent in Q2 of 2018.
He, however, noted an increase of 0.3 per cent to 1.8 per cent in Q3 of 2018.
“In reality, Mr President should expect no less. It is a fact that under his watch and resulting from his actions or inactions, investor confidence in the economy has waned like never before in Nigeria’s history,” Atiku alleged.
He added, “Nigeria remains an uncompetitive economy as demonstrated by the recent World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Competitiveness Index which positions Nigeria as 115th of 140 Countries.
“The Report shows that Nigeria has moved three places down, contrary to Mr President’s claim that ‘we are moving in the right direction’. Nigeria remains one of the most difficult places to do business as evidenced by the massive outflows of capital in recent times.”
On the way forward, the former vice president called for an alternative to the government’s budget proposal.
The country, according to him, needs a government which understands how to run the economy in order to get it working again.
Atiku stressed that his administration has the capacity and experience Nigeria needed to get on the right path.
He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, an Atiku Presidency, come 2019, will present to Nigerians a people’s budget that will prioritise and focus on the twin challenges of unemployment and poverty.”
“Nigeria’s high rates of unemployment, poverty and inequality represent both a significant distortion in the economic system and a lost opportunity for critical national development and could potentially threaten social stability.”