By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday moved to allocate 40% of Nigeria’s annual budget for capital projects in the next 10 years as Economy Stimulus Bill scaled second reading.
Nigeria’s annual national budget allocates just about 20% to capital projects as evident in the 2020 budget where only N2.46 trillion (inclusive of N318.06 billion in statutory transfers) is proposed for capital projects out of the N10.33 trillion.
The House in a bid to change this narrative, on money passed for second reading, the Bill for an Act to Provide that 40% of Nigeria’s Annual Budget should be earmarked for Capital Projects in the next ten (10) Years (Economy Stimulus Bill) sponsored by Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House.
The Bill seeks to provide that 40% of the nation’s budget be earmarked for capital projects for the next ten year and creates some forms of monitoring process to ensure implementation and enforcement by providing that upon commencement, the Accountant General of the Federation shall submit quarterly reports to the National Assembly on the performance of the Capital Budget and must be submitted within two weeks after the end of a corresponding quarter.
According to the Bill, “National Assembly shall within two weeks consider the report of the Accountant General of the Federation and if not satisfied shall pass the necessary resolution to ensure implementation and performance by the President.
“This Bill shall be in force for a period of ten years after which there shall be a review by the National Assembly.”
It stipulates that, “penalty of 5 years imprisonment or a fine of N50 Million or both for violation or any attempt by any person to frustrate the implementation of the Bill when passed. This stringent punitive measure suggests that the current state of infrastructure and economy are not such to be handled with kids gloves”.
In a lead debate on the importance of the Bill, Gbajabiamila said capital expenditure motivates increase in investment, leading to production capacity increase.
The Speaker who spoke through the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu said production capacity increase gives rise to increase in goods and services produced in the individual economy activities, which when aggregated, will on the long run increase the Gross Domestic Products.
The Speaker argued that, “capital projects attract more investments, create jobs and reduce unemployment. Capital projects lead to the empowerment of more people. More people will pay tax to the government thereby empowering the government with more revenue to reinvest in new projects.
“Arising from the above and the current economic challenges confronting us as a people, coupled with the decaying state of infrastructure across the country, we cannot undermine the importance of this Bill which seeks to provide 40% of our annual Budget for capital project for the next ten years.
“The purpose of the Bill is for us to use our legislative instrument, having been empowered by the Constitution, to support the Federal Government to improve on the nation’s infrastructure and drive the economy for the next ten years. I call on you my Honorable Colleagues to consider the passage of this Bill to stimulate the economy for the empowerment of all those we represent.”