“Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation” is the year 2020 executive budget proposal of President Mohammadu Buhari presented to joint session of the National Assembly, Abuja on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 with N10.33 trillion been the total budget. However, N10.33 trillion is estimated as the total Federal Government revenue in 2020 and comprises oil revenue N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenues of N3.7 trillion. This is 7 percent higher than the 2019 comparative estimate of N7.594 trillion inclusive of the Government Owned Enterprises. According to President Buhari “investing in critical infrastructure is a key component of our fiscal strategy under the 2020 Budget Proposals.
An aggregate sum of N2.46 trillion (inclusive of N318.06 billion in statutory transfers) is proposed for capital projects in 2020”. Although the 2020 capital budget is N721.33 billion (or 23 percent) lower than the 2019 budget provision of N3.18 trillion, it is still higher than the actual and projected capital expenditure outturns for both the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, respectively. However, at 24 percent of aggregate projected expenditure, the 2020 provision falls significantly short of the 30 percent target in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020. Budget deficit is projected to be N2.18 trillion in 2020. This includes draw downs on project-tied loans and the related capital expenditure. This represents 1.52 percent of estimated GDP, well below the 3 percent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, and in line with the ERGP target of 1.96 percent.
The deficit will be financed by new foreign and domestic borrowings, Privatization Proceeds, signature bonuses and draw downs on the loans secured for specific development projects. In terms of debt servicing which has become one of this administration big criticism.2020 budgets, provide the sum of N2.45 trillion for debt service. Of this amount, 71 percent is to service domestic debt which accounts for about 68 percent of the total debt. The sum of N296 billion is provided for the Sinking Fund to retire maturing bonds issued to local contractors.
The foregoing on 2020 budget is to provide an over view of what the proposal key details entails. However, the concern of this piece is to address cogent aspect of the budget as its affect science and technology in Nigeria. The pattern of budget allocation for the science and technology sector over the last few years’ shows that the allocation to this sector, as not been encouraging, especially if we must consider how critical this sector is to the overall economy development of our nation. For instance in the appropriation bill for the year 2020 N87.35 Billion is allocated for the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST). A breakdown of this show that for capital project N37.55 billion and recurrent expenditure N49.80 billion. A review of the outgoing year 2019 budget N66, 823,303,434 in the 2019 for the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST). According to the Appropriation Bill 2019, N35, 020,953,172 is proposed for recurrent expenditure and N31, 802,350,262 for capital expenditure.
According to the 2020 budget details, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) are among the top 12 capital and recurrent allocations in the 2020 budget. But unfortunately, it occupied the 12th position on both side. This portrayed that budget for S&T is still not a cardinal priority for us in Appropriation Bill 2020 just as it happen in 2019 budget and others before now. While we acknowledge the importance of all sectors and their relevance, we must also prioritize our development agenda as S&T remains critical. The top 12 capital allocations in 2020 budget are; Works and Housing N259.20 billion; Education N162.74 billion; Power N127.67 billion; Transport N123.07 billion; Defence N99.87 billion; Health N90.88; Agriculture N79.79 billion; Water resource N78.34 billion;Humanitarian affairs and Disaster N54.45 billion;Aviation N53.85 billion;Industry,trade and investment; Science and Technology N37.55 billion
At recurrent allocations side Defence top the table with N778.59 billion as the war against boko Haram is still much around, one would not expect less for that sector. Education followed next with N490.20 billion; Police affairs N395.83billion; Health N336.32 billion; Interior N219.46 billion; Youth and Sport N168.33 billion; Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) N114.91 billion; Petroleum Resources N75.60 billion; Foreign Affairs N67.56 billion; Office of the Secretary to the Government of the of the Federation (OSGF) N59.60 billion; Agriculture & Rural Development N58.67 billion; while Science and Technology N49.80 billion occupied the 12th position.
The ministry as established has the following mandates:
*Formulation, monitoring and review of the National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation to attain the macro-economic and social objectives of Vision 20:2020 as it relates to science and technology; *Acquisition and application of science, technology and innovation contribution to increase agricultural and livestock productivity; *Increasing energy reliance through sustainable R&D in nuclear, renewable and alternative energy sources for peaceful and development purposes; *Promotion of wealth creation through support to key industrial and manufacturing sectors; *Creation of technology infrastructure and knowledge base of facilitate its wide application for development;*Application of natural medicine resources and technologies for health sector development; *Acquisition and application of Space Science and Technology as a key driver of economic development; and *Ensuring the impact of R&D results in the Nigerian economy through the promotion of indigenous research capacity to facilitate technology transfer. With Seventeen (17) key agencies
At a time the current government planning to diversify the economy away from crude oil and seek for alternative means to leverage its growth and jobs creation target as well as revenue generation. Critical sectors like Science, Technology, Innovation and Research potentials are nonetheless real and cannot be easily written off. Unlocking this potentials as well as achieving sustainable development is also pragmatically hinged on Science, Technology, and Innovation and Research development.
As this piece makes case for science and technology in Nigeria, it is in our opinion that for S&T, understanding the political economy and socio-economy context is off due diligence as a matter of course when it comes to budgeting for S&T, knowing the vast of opportunities that come with it. The non-transition over the years by Nigeria’s economy from traditional mono-cultural economy oil is bane her development economically. Nigeria needs a genuine transition, a change of orientation from a consuming nation to a manufacturing economy which creates jobs or bequeaths equitable wealth distribution on citizens.
While we must commend the president for early presentation of the budget to the national Assembly, also we must charge legislature to fulfil their own part to fastracking the debate and committee hearing from MDAs and Parastatals .As Nigerians would not entertain delayed passage of budgets that has done incalculable harm to the economy over the years. Infrastructure projects, which catalyse economic developments, suffer most with late implementation. Local investments are delayed as investors tarry to see how their businesses could be affected. This malaise cripples jobs and wealth creation.
Adefolarin A. Olamilekan
Political Economist & Development Researcher and the Editor of Innovation Nigeria News Magazine