The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, in this interview, calls on Nigerians to put public officers to task over deliverables, especially under the 2024 budget
It gives me the impression that the government will continue to borrow to the point of crowding out the private sector
It’s not going to crowd out the private sector because the first thing the president had directed is that we are no longer going to borrow money unlawfully. So the Central Bank is not going to print money for the government anymore.
If, to the extent that we would borrow from the Central Bank, it is going to be within what the law allows. Our law allows up to 5% of the previous year’s revenue. What we have been doing wrong is to go beyond that 5% limit. So now there’s that clarity.
And secondly is where we are to borrow; we will issue bonds. It’s an option. People can invest. It even provides an opportunity for some private investors who have money to buy government bonds. Some are looking forward to it. So certainly it will not crowd out the private sector.
Are you comfortable with the revenue structure that we have? For instance, having a very robust income from the maritime industry could represent the second to what you get from the oil industry.
Well, first, the institutional realignment of recognising and creating a ministry of blue and maritime economy supports the point you made that we appreciate that this is a sector that deserves attention by itself.
The second element is, and that’s why, one of the reasons we are here. Look, we should task people. We should put questions to public officials to the effect that if you don’t think you can do it, step aside and allow somebody who can do it to step in. That’s how companies are run. If you are given a sector to run and you accept that it can contribute X to our national life, and without any decent reason, you can’t, then the searchlight should be beamed on you to make the choice.
President Bola Tinubu, in signing the budget, said as much, if you cannot help us, then you may consider leaving and you all have the responsibility to put us to task.
A budget, just like the mission of a private company, demands hard work. It’s not a presumed achievement. It depends on the industry and the hard work of those who are bestowed with delivering it. And we should put everyone to task.