Prominent economist Bismarck Rewane said Nigerians are not interested in budgetary figures if the prices of basic commodities like rice, bread, and garri fail to go down.
Rewane stated this in an interview on Channels Television’s Business Morning show on Thursday.
He said, “In the end, budgetary arithmetics, budgetary mathematics in economics, is of no use to anybody except when, by this time, six months’ time, if we are buying rice at N40,000 a bag rather than N60,000 a bag, if we are buying bread at N900 a big loaf instead of N1,300, which we are doing today. If we are buying garri at lower prices.
The people are not interested in whether the budget is balanced or what the debt is. How does it (the budget) affect their day-to-day livelihood? That is the key thing.”
President Bola Tinubu, at his maiden budget presentation before the National Assembly on Wednesday, said the proposed N27.5 trillion 2024 budget will ensure micro-economic stability, poverty reduction, and greater access to social security.
The president highlighted priority areas such as security, local job creation, macro-economic stability, investment environment optimization, human capital development, poverty reduction, and social security.
He fixed recurrent non-debit expenditure at N9.92trn, capital expenditure at N8.73trn, debt service at N8.25trn, revenue at N18.32trn, new borrowings at N7.83trn, and deficit at N9.18trn.
But Rewane, the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, analysing the budget proposal, said in the final analysis that the people are not interested in figures but want to feel the impact of the government’s economic policies as many are under pressure.
He said, “And as you know, prices are up and people are under tremendous pressure,” adding that the rate of poverty in the country is driving people mad.
“You will notice that on the streets of Lagos in particular, the number of lunatics has increased, and part of it is driven by poverty. There are many mental health issues. People are pushed to the wall. Some of them walk across the road, even in moving traffic.
People need to feel the impact. The impact is not going to be felt because of 10 or 12% of GDP, that is, N27 trillion; it has to be more. Where is the money going to come from?
It’s going to come from investors, and investors are going to come here when they are sure that their money is safe and the environment is clean, and they can look forward to a brighter future.”
Rewane said the government must be honest with Nigerians about the economic realities, saying that “honesty is in short supply.”
According to the economist, people cannot start pretending to be happy.
He said, “You can fake news, but you can’t fake prosperity.”
Curled from the Vanguard