Economist Bismarck Rewane has stated that Nigerians are more concerned about the prices of essential commodities like rice, bread, and garri than budgetary numbers.
During his appearance on Channels Television’s Business Morning show on Thursday, Rewane, the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, emphasized the public’s focus on the cost of basic necessities over complex budget figures.
He said, “In the end, budgetary arithmetics, 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 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.”
President Bola Tinubu at his maiden budget presentation before the National Assembly on Wednesday said the proposed N27.5trn 2024 budget will ensure micro-economic stability, poverty reduction, and greater access to social security, amongst others.
He highlighted priority areas such as security, local job creation, macro-economic stability, investment environment optimization, human capital development, poverty reduction, and social security.
Giving a breakdown of the budget estimates, the President fixed recurrent non-debit expenditure at N9.92trn, capital expenditure at N8.73trn, debt service at N8.25trn, revenue at N18.32trn, new borrowings at N7.83trn and deficit at N9.18trn.
Rewane, analysing the budget proposal, said in the final analysis, the people are not interested in figures but want to feel the impact of the government’s economic policies as many are under pressure.
He added that the rate of poverty in the country is driving people mad.
Rewane said, “And as you know, prices are up and people are under tremendous pressure.
“You will notice that on the streets of Lagos in particular, the number of lunatics has increased and part of it is driven by poverty. Many mental health issues. People are pushed to the wall. Some of them walk across the road even in moving traffic.
“People need to feel the impact. the impact is not going to be felt because of 10 or 12% of GDP, that is N27trn; it has to be more. Where is the more going to come from? It’s 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.”
The economist said the government must be honest with Nigerians on the economic realities, saying that “honesty is in short supply”.
According to him, people cannot start pretending to be happy.
He said, “You can fake news but you can’t fake prosperity.”