Following the release of the 2014 budget and issues arising there from reports have indicated that, the key ingredient that would benefit the nation may be the successful completion of the power privatisation programme.
From the targeted turnaround of the power sector, the budget has made provisions to ensure that before the end of the first half of the year, the nation must have achieved at least 18 hours of power availability to consumers daily.
It reasoned that only such stepped-up power generation and distribution capacity would ensure that the intention to lift the economy this year would be realised. Daily Sun learnt that President Goodluck Jonathan had in his speech to the National Assembly, noted that: “We need to grow even faster than 7 per cent per annum and we need growth in the sectors such as agriculture, housing, power and services that create most jobs. Our growth must bring shared prosperity. An economy whose growth leaves wealth in the hands of a few cannot achieve its full potential.”
The fiscal document also has as its main targets the “continued and focused implementation of the power roadmap to consolidate the transformation of the power sector, increase investments in transmission to ensure power generated is properly evacuated and distributed.”
The budget from the Federal Ministry of Finance indicated that the economic plan of the Federal Government for the year includes “strengthening regulation of the power sector and closely monitoring electricity delivery to increase this beyond 18 hours per day.”
In addition to the lofty plans for power generation and distribution improvement, it would further ensure that “it would complete the privatisation of the NIPP projects, accelerate work on gas pipeline infrastructure and also continue to invest in hydro-electric power and clean energy as we monitor the effects of climate change on our economy.”
Another factor of development, which the budget intends to get right is access roads, especially the completion of the East-West Road and the dualisation of the Abuja-Abaji-Lokoja Expressway.
From the 2013 budget, the Federal Government had accomplished about 80 per cent of the dualisation that stopped at the Kotun Karfe from Giri Junction end of the road in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and promises to take it to total completion within the regulation time of the contract.
The 2014 fiscal plan would also handle the total rehabilitation of the Ayingba-Otukpo Road and finally the actualisation of the Kano-Maiduguri Expressway, one of the longest federal highways.
Because the government has not got enough cash to handle the projects and further the track of development, it has outlined measures of checking waste and illegal spending.
“One of the major ways of making sure these plans are achieved is cutting down on the cost of governance. Waste does not represent sound management, therefore, the government has built into the year’s budget those pragmatic means of conserving money and making sure only the pressing needs in both capital and recurrent spending receive adequate attention,” a source told Daily Sun.
“In 2014, only concrete steps will be taken to reduce cost of governance and stem the tide of corruption and leakages. The budget will also curb fraud in the administration of the pension system. A Pensions Transition Arrangement Department under a new Director-General was set up in 2013. In 2014, this department will ensure pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities and are not subjected to fraud. The budget will also ensure that all public officers involved “in robbing our retired people will not continue.”
In the petroleum sector, the budget would take care of the oil production and distribution chain, especially with “the Governor Uduaghan-led committee that is ready with its recommendations on how to stem oil theft, pipeline vandalism and further adopt various security measures and community measures.”