“Nigerians bothered about rising food prices, not budget” – Rewane

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Bismarck Rewane, has said that Nigerians are more concerned about the rising food prices and less bothered about the 2024 Budget.

According to Rewane, many Nigerians are less interested in the details of the 2024 budget recently presented to the National Assembly by President Bola Tinubu but more worried that the rising food prices are making life difficult for them.

Speaking during a television programme yesterday, the respected economist said, “In the end, budgetary arithmetic, budgetary mathematics in economics is of no use to anybody except when by this time, six months, if we are buying rice at N40, 000 a bag rather than N60, 000 a bag; if we are buying bread N900 a big loaf instead of N1,300 which we are doing today. If we are buying garri at lower prices.

“The people are not interested in whether the budget is balanced and what the debt is. How does it (the budget) affect their day-to-day livelihood? That is the key thing”.

Recall that Tinubu, on Wednesday, said his administration is targeting a 3.76 per cent economic growth in the 2024 fiscal year, as he presented the 2024 budget proposal to a joint session of the 10th National Assembly in Abuja — his first since assuming office exactly six months ago.

This was as the president spotlighted national security, local job creation, and poverty reduction as the top priorities of the 2024 Appropriation Bill which he called the ‘Budget of Renewed Hope’.

On the economy, Tinubu argued that a stable macro-economic environment is crucial in his administration’s quest to catalyse private investment and accelerate economic growth.

According to the budget proposal, funding to the education sector (N2.18 trillion) is 101.85 percent more than the N1.08 trillion that was budgeted for the sector in the 2023 appropriation, while the health sector was earmarked N1.33 trillion, and N534 billion has been budgeted for social investments and poverty reduction, amongst many others.

However, Rewane said that many people have become more frustrated in the face of the hard economic realities facing the country, saying the high level of poverty is already causing mental health challenges for many people.

The economist said, “People need to feel the impact of the budget; the impact is not going to be felt because of 10 or 12 percent of GDP, that is N27 trillion; it has to be more. Where is the more going to come from?

“It is going to come from investors and investors are going to come here when they are sure that their money is safe and the environment is clean, and they can look forward to a brighter future”.

He said the Government must be honest with Nigerians on the economic realities, noting that people cannot start pretending to be happy. “You can fake news, but you can’t fake prosperity,” Rewane stated.

“In the end, budgetary arithmetic’s, budgetary mathematics in economics, is of no use to anybody except when, by this time, six months’ time, if we are buying rice at N40,000 a bag rather than N60,000 a bag; if we are buying bread at N900 a big loaf instead of N1,300, which we are doing today. If we are buying garri at lower prices”, he added.

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