2017 BUDGET: APC Chieftain Kicks at 2017 Appropriation Bill, Calls Proposal ‘Voodoo Budget’

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Vena Ikem (L), Buhari (R) 
Efio-Ita Nyok|17 December 2016
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River State has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s N7.298 trillion Budget of Recovery and Development presented to a joint session of the National Assembly on 14 December as ‘Voodoo Budget’. Barr. Venatius A. Ikem who is a former Commissioner of Works in the previous administration of Mr. Donald Duke confessed he was unimpressed by the 2017 appropriation bill as presented by the president of the federal republic.
The ruling party chieftain made his mind known via his social media account on Wednesday 14 December immediately after the proposal was presented. Vena based his reservation on the revenue speculation of the president who projected 2.2 million barrel per day. For him, with the ongoing scenario at the Niger Delta region the country couldn’t realise such prospects. As such the economic blueprint was already ‘dead on arrival’. Vena further explained another reason for his skepticism which is the most recent importation policy of the federal government on cars. For the politician, banning the land importation of cars into the country would further shut out prospects for major revenue for the country. He rather called for proper regulations and enforcement mechanisms to streamline the activities going on in that sector of the economy. Outright banning for him was a ‘moribund policy’. Vena proceeded with suggesting the outsourcing of the affected industry to the organised private sector. Finally, the former National Publicity Secretary of the now opposition PDP queried the funding of the 2016 budget that justified the increment in 2017. He ended his critical comment in the following words which states that he would be comfortable with a, ‘realistic and realizable budget than an ambitious one that will end up as another wishful thinking exercise.’ Hear him out:
Voodoo Budgets continue…
‘Today President Muhammad Buhari presented a 7tr plus budget of “Recovery ” to the joint Houses of the National Assembly. I’m unimpressed. 
‘First the fundamental assumption on achievable crude oil revenue targets is to me, unrealistic. That to me makes the budget half dead on arrival. How can we realistically estimate that we can achieve a 2.2 m bpd production target at the current state of affairs in the Niger Delta? The revenue projection is based on this figure. That represents our best output in the best of times.
Courageous Vena bearing his mind on the 2017 Appropriation Bill 
‘Secondly, I was recently appalled by the ban on importation of cars through land borders. With over 900,000M2 of land borders, I wonder what we want to achieve. We will effectively shut down a huge revenue source or drive it further underground. Yes, there is a lot of smuggling and it is said to be more  beneficial to our neighbours. But contemporary trends no longer favour bans and such moribund policies, because they bring negative consequences. What we need is to put in place  proper regulations and enforcement mechanisms. At his very worse even US President-elect Trump talks about taxing the hell out of imports not banning them!
‘We can begin to look at “outsourcing” some of the more difficult revenue sources to the private sector since our Customs are not trusted enough. This can create jobs and redistribute some wealth in the process and add value to the private sector while ensuring government wins all the way by raising her revenue projections. Doing otherwise is to shut down millions of informal jobs and multiple economic benefits that sustain a large segment of the population at the borders trade.
‘Finally, the key question remains how well did we fund the 2016 Budget to justify the increase in 2017? The economic indicators do not yet show much. Many advertised jobs( contracts) or if you like capital projects in the 2016 Budget have not been given out, local debts remain largely unpaid, the banking sector is groveling. Many ambitious social welfare programs have not taken off, etc, etc… leading of course to the poor indicators we are experiencing. 
‘Of course Govt is emboldened to bamboozle us with the figures because of the current exchange value of the Naira to the Dollar. In real terms the budget is a substantial reduction in the 2016 figures by as must as almost 15% using  Dollar denomination. While we agree that our budget is in naira, our foreign reserve capacity is measured in Dollars and so the currency has implications for our budgets.
‘I would prefer to see a lean but realistic and realizable budget than an ambitious one that will end up as another wishful thinking exercise’, he concluded.
Vena has been commended for standing up to the truth despite being a member of the ruling party. Do agree with Vena that the 2017 Appropriation Bill is a ‘Voodoo Budget’?
Efio-Ita Nyok
Is a Blogger, the Editor & Publisher of NegroidHaven.org