MDAs’ budget allocation to change in 2017— Buhari •As experts brainstorm at retreat

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, gave a hint into the direction of the 2017 budget, revealing that some federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will have their capital allocation slashed, while others will get significantly high allocation.

Speaking while declaring open a ministerial retreat on the economy and the budget with the theme: “Retreat which is Building Inter-ministerial Synergy for Effective Planning and Budgeting in Nigeria,” at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he said this was necessary to refocus priorities.

“In this regard, let me inform you that because of the need to focus on our key priorities, some ministries may get significantly less capital allocation than they received in 2016, while others may get significantly more,” he said.

The president said the theme of the retreat was very apt and timely, especially as government was in the process of developing the 2017 budget.

According to him, over the years, there had been a mismatch between planned targets and budgetary outcomes at the national and sectorial levels.

He said the federal MDAs had not also benefitted significantly from working together and building consensus around common national objectives, which he said had impeded growth and development of the country.

Buhari stated that the retreat was, therefore, designed to discuss issues around the state of the economy and build consensus amongst cabinet members and top government officials, as well as serve as an opportunity to have a general overview of the economy and discuss the framework for the 2017 budget, its key priorities and deliverables.

Buhari noted: “This retreat is coming at a critical time in our economic history, when the Nigerian economy is in a recession, with significant downturn in performance in various sectors.

“It is with regard to the importance of this retreat that I decided to sit through the first part of the session to listen to the views from experienced economists and development experts on how best to implement our plans to rid the country of its oil dependence and to diversify the economy and bring the country out of the current economic recession.

“This is in line with our administration’s determination to lay a solid foundation for growth and development as outlined in the Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) of our ‘change’ agenda

He said given that the retreat was a lead-up to the 2017 budget, his expectation was that it will come out of its sessions with a determination and common position on how to have improved synergy among the various MDAs for the effective formulation and implementation of the 2017 budget.

Buhari explained that the inclusion of some key non-spending agencies, such as the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) were participants at the retreat.

He said it underscored the commitment of his administration to leverage on private sector resources through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and other arrangements, in order to augment the scarce budgetary resources at our disposal and to accelerate investments in building critical infrastructure.

He further said: “Indeed, the challenges we face in the current recession require ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to deploy strategies that involve engaging meaningfully with the private sector, to raise the level of private sector investment in the economy as a whole.

“We are confident that the level of private investment will grow as we are determined to make it easier to do business in Nigeria by the reforms we are introducing under the auspices of the Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business.”

The president reiterated that his government would continue to strategise on how we could turn the current challenges into opportunities for the nation and especially for the youths.

He reassured the youths that government would remain steadfast in its effort to ensure greater progress and prosperity for them.

The president also stated that “while government is taking the lead in the task of repositioning our economy for change, we cannot achieve this completely by ourselves.

“We will need and we ask for the support and cooperation of the private sector’s domestic and foreign investors, states and local governments, the National Assembly and the Judiciary, as well as all well-meaning Nigerians in this important task. We are confident that working together, we shall succeed.”

He expressed the hope that the cabinet members would learn from the experiences of the resource persons and facilitators to prioritise their sector programmes and projects to bring the country out of the current economic recession and place it on the path of growth and development.

The retreat, organised for ministers and federal permanent secretaries, attracted keynote speakers from the private sector, including Bismack Rewane, Obadiah Mailafiya, Ayo Tereba, Bode Agusto and Frank Nweke, Jr.