21 July 2018
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) has condemned the 2018 budget of the President Muhammadu Buhari, which was signed by the president a month ago, as one that will entrench poverty in Nigeria and concentrate wealth on the hands of the few. This position was articulated in a press release by the party, which is reproduced in full below.
The 2018 Budget is not fundamentally different from previous ones. The only constant thing about budgets in the last five years is the steady increment in the volume of budget as well as debt servicing. Capital expenditure nosedived in 2016 from N601 billion allocated in 2015 to mere N173.1 billion which was actually spent. However, in the same year 2016 debt servicing recorded N1.3 trillion up from N1 trillion in 2015. Hence, the budgets for social services like education and health have recorded paltry allocations.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) sees the 2018 budget as, once again, having all the hallmarks of a capitalist budget in a time of mounting crisis. It is a budget of poverty consolidation and enrichment of a few privileged persons. We do not see the rational for servicing of debt to the tune of N2.01 trillion an amount that equals the amount allocated to Education (N661 billion), Health (N356 billion), Agriculture and Rural Development (N203 billion), Water Resources (N155 billion), Power, Works and Housing (N715 billion) put together. What this clearly shows is that the Buhari-led government prioritizes the interest of a few creditors, most of whom are members of the ruling class, far and above the obligations to the Nigerian working masses.
It is obvious that governments at all levels have continually plunged the Nigeria economy into needless debt as a means of largely acquiring more public funds to themselves, resulting in increasing debt servicing. Besides, the Nigerian working masses do not feel any positive impact of these loans considering the fact that the loan are largely mismanaged and looted. The most ridiculous is government constantly and mostly borrowing money from the privileged few and imperialist institutions through financial instruments like treasury bills only to pay back one of the highest interest rates in the world and, to make matters worse, the loans are mostly not invested on anything tangible. The government through the CBN gives loans to the commercial banks only to borrow same money at a more profitable rate is round stripping and stealing. Inflation in Nigeria is mostly influenced by cost push and not demand push considering the fact that Nigeria is mostly an import nation with weak currency, weak purchasing power, lacking basic infrastructure, high cost of credit currently hovering 20% etc.
A government that claims to bring about change should pay more attention to social services and massive job creation but typically of the capitalist government, less attention are paid to the challenges confronting the people. SPN is opposed to the provocatively high allocation to the National Assembly (N139.5), Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government (N112 billion), Office of the National Security Adviser to the Federal Government (N123billion) and the jumbo salaries and allowances for political office holders in the executive, legislators, agencies etc., put at over N500 billion. SPN government will reduce the allocation to the National Assembly by at least 80% and same for Office of Secretary to the FG and Security adviser to the FG and thereby saving about N300 billion that will be channeled into education, health etc.
In the same way the reduction of jumbo salaries and allowances to the average wage and allowances of civil servant will save at least another N300billion. SPN will pay back loans that were utilized in the interest of the people but will not service or pay loans owed to looters while some of the loans will be re-negotiated. SPN is opposed to Tax amnesty of N87.8 billion BUT favours making the rich and the big companies to pay more tax and hereby raising additional revenue from corporate income tax from N658 billion to at least N1 trillion. Massive investment in social infrastructure and industrialization under a democratic control of the working people will drastically the cost of doing business and consequently attract more small and medium scale businesses.
The SPN will scrap the allocation to Power Reform Program of N193 billion in line with its renationalization program of the power sector. SPN will also scrap the N65 billion for amnesty to militants and N150 billion allocated to Special Intervention Program and invest these resources in addition to the existing allocation to expand, education, health, environment, housing etc., and by so doing train, educate and create jobs to youths in general as a means of eradicating militancy, kidnapping and other social vices in one plan to eradicate poverty and joblessness.
The Buhari government and the entire ruling elite are not thinking about industrialization let alone planning towards it, the government confuses foreign investment with industrialization. Attracting foreign Investment will not industrialise the economy, at best the foreign investors will cherry pick and exploit the opportunities to make the most profits. Only massive investment in key sectors like education, integrated transportation, rural development, modern agriculture, healthcare, steel etc., in a planned manner can industrialise and create jobs on a massive scale. The essence of industrializing the economy is to produce and carryout services faster, better and efficiently with the aim of improving the quality of life. This also means producing small tools and big machines including automated ones in Nigeria to enable the economy’s productivity increase and thereby raise living standards.
The capitalist ruling elite in a neo-colonial economy is incapable of achieving industrialization and advancement in the economy because it is weak to challenge the imperialist capital. The task of achieving sustainable economic progress can only be carried out by the working masses through nationalized planned economy under transparent and democratic control and management by the working people themselves. This is what the SPN will work to achieve by building a movement of Nigerian working people and poor that can transform the country.
Signed: Abiodun Bamigboye, Acting National Chairperson
Chinedu Bosah, National Secretary