Why 2024 Budget is not Realistic — Abani

Dr. Mark Abani, the Tax Faculties Dean of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) explained the critical importance of security during the 2024 Budget Workshop in Abuja.
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“There is palpable fear even in Abuja right now. Security must top the list of the government’s priorities if not nobody will bring their money to invest here,” Dr. Abani, the Lead Speaker said during the workshop organized by CITN in collaboration with the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) on Friday.

He specifically called for improved security for farmers to enable them to carry out their agricultural activities without hindrance.

The widespread incidents of kidnapping and killing of farmers on their farms, especially in Northern Nigeria, where a significant portion of the country’s food is produced, have raised serious concerns.

Dr. Abani also expressed worries about the nation's escalating debt profile, stating, “Let’s hope we do not join the other countries that have lost assets to their creditors.”

The tax expert highlighted that despite the high oil prices, Nigerians seem not to be benefiting due to low production, mainly attributed to oil theft and insecurity in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

“Oil prices have been higher than predicted, but Production in bpd (barrels per day) has not matched expectations, so Nigeria has not benefited from the higher prices,” he noted.

Dr. Abani questioned the realism of the N750/$1 foreign exchange rate projection in the 2024 budget, given the considerable gap between the parallel market rate and the budget benchmark.

“The FX rates have been outside ranges assumed, while inflation rates, in reality, far outstrip targets. Current estimates exceed 28%,” he explained.

As for Social Safety nets, the speaker highlighted that the sector received only 2 percent of the 2024 federal government budget, down from 4 percent the previous year.

Dr. Abani called for intensified efforts to raise more revenue but cautioned against overtaxing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are already struggling to stay afloat.

CITN President Mr. Samuel Agbeluyi urged the present administration to transparently and effectively utilize public funds as it implements its first full budget. He emphasized the need for the government to focus on revenue generation to reduce reliance on borrowing.

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