Saraki Wants Human Capital Development Prioritised In 2018 Budget

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Senate president, Bukola Saraki has said the national assembly would prioritize “human capital development”, in the planning and implementation of the 2018 budget.

To achieve this target, Saraki said the national assembly hopes to allocate expenditure on critical health and education facilities in the country.

The senate president stated this in Abuja on Tuesday as he declared opened a  two-day public hearing on the 2018 national budget.

While acknowledging Nigeria’s huge infrastructure deficit, Saraki emphasized the need to expand expenditure especially in the areas of human capital development

“We acknowledge Nigeria’s huge infrastructural deficit, as well as the need to expand planned expenditure. However, you will agree with me that, while it is important to achieve equity and balance in the spread of development projects around the country, we must also prioritise human capital development. It is in this vein that the national assembly will prioritise expenditure on critical health and education facilities as well as soft infrastructure”, he said.

Saraki advised Nigeria to ensure strict adherence to the 1% resolution to health which requires the basic health fund to be funded by 1% of the consolidated national fund totalling  N86 billion.

American businessman and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gate last week offered similar advice emphasising on health and education.

“When the speaker and i met with bill gates last week, the emphasis was on health, and it is something we should take very seriously indeed, especially as the 1% resolution would go a long way in boosting basic maternal and child health immunisation services as well as local and rural community health in this country”, he said.

Saraki said Nigeria most focus more on HCD through health and education if it hopes to provide quality leadership in Africa.

“If we can get our HCD right through health and education then we would provide effective leadership in Africa”, he said.

Saraki is worried that as at march ending, a good number of government agencies are yet to submit their budget proposals; pointing out that such attitudes does portray any form of seriousness.

Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara said efforts by the national assembly to inject equity in the national budget through zonal interventions have been grossly misunderstood, arguing that no amount of blackmail would stop the national assembly from ensuring equitable distribution of infrastructure across the country.

He however pointed out that the quality of budget is not in the size of it but in its implementation as he called on citizens to insist that the budget is implemented fully.

President Muhamadu Buhari had in November 2017 submitted a budget proposal of n8.6 trillion to the national assembly to consolidate on the achievements of the 2016 and 2017 budgets.

Minister of state for budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed said the budget is predicated on an assumption of oil production of 2.3 billion barrels per day with oil price pegged at $45 per barrel at an exchange rate of n305 to $1.

She added that the budget is projected on an inflationary rate of 12.42% and a growth rate of 3.5%.

She said the budget is designed to stimulate investment especially increase in human capital development and the new drive to diversify the Nigerian economy.

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