Experts in the financial sector have expressed concerns over the seven per cent and 3.9 per cent allocated to education and health respectively, in the 2018 proposed budget by the Federal Government.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Saturday that low capital allocations to education and health showed government concern for physical returns on investment rather than meeting social challenges.
NAN reports that in the proposal presented to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari allocated only 7.04 per cent of the N8.6 trillion 2018 budget to the education.
The total sum allocated to the sector is N605.8 billion, with N435.1 billion for recurrent expenditure, N61.73 billion for capital expenditure and N109.06 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission.
The allocation is lower than the 7.4 percent the government gave the education sector in the of N7.4 trillion 2017 budget.
Also, a total of N340.45 billion was voted for the health sector. This represents a paltry 3.9 per cent of the total budget, lower than the 4.1 per cent in 2017.
Further breakdown of the health budget reveals that N269.34 billion was voted for recurrent expenditure, while only N71.11 billion will be used on capital expenditure.
Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, of the Department of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun state, expressed dissatisfaction to the poor allocations to education and health sectors of the economy.
Tella said that high investments on education and health, critical sectors would solve problems even in other sectors.
He said that the budget looked good for an economy that needed to be related to take the country finally out of recession.
“But when we realise that about a quarter of the budget is allocated to debt repayment and servicing.
If the allocation is to settle domestic debt, it is okay as the money will circulate within the economy, otherwise it becomes huge capital outflow”, Tella added.
He stated that “allocations to capital relative to recurrent expenditure means there is still backlog of outstanding payment, the reverse should be the case by now”.
Tella , however, called for early passage of the budget for onward implementation before end of January 2018.
He said that the early passage would definitely assist in promoting economic growth out of recession.
“The legislature must cooperate with the executive to move the economy forward”, Tella added.
Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., said that the news of N8.6 trillion budget in the sense should influence the capital market.
Omordion stated that the struggle and style in the implementation of 2016 and 2017 budgets had not reflected in the life of citizens in spite positive economic data.
He said that quick passage of the budget and proper implementation would help in sustaining economic growth and development.