2016 budget and job creation: An overview
AFRESH resolve by the Federal Government to tackle unemployment challenges has been eliciting reactions across the country, especially among labour leaders
The reactions revolve around the proposed mode of implementation, funding tactics and lessons learnt from previous efforts.
One phenomenon that has continually been blamed for the festering social ills in societies worldwide is unemployment.
The expectations of Nigerians should normally gauge the success or otherwise of a government on its plans on how to curb unemployment.
Presenting the 2016 budget proposal to the Joint Session of the National Assembly, President Muhamadu Buhari had explained that the Federal Government will invest in training “our youths, through the revival of our technical and vocational institutions to ensure they are competent enough to seize the opportunities that will arise from this economic revival”.
Buhari stressed that Nigeria’s job creation drive will be private sector led, saying his government will encourage this by a reduction in tax rates for smaller businesses as well as subsidized funding for priority sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals.”
“As we focus on inclusive growth, we are conscious of the current rate of unemployment and underemployment. This is a challenge we are determined to meet; and this budget is the platform for putting more Nigerians to work”.
He added: “I can assure you that this administration will have a job creation focus in every aspect of the execution of this budget. Nigeria’s job creation drive will be private sector led. We will encourage this by a reduction in tax rates for smaller businesses as well as subsidised funding for priority sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals.
“As an emergency measure, to address the chronic shortage of teachers in public schools across the country, we also will partner with state and local governments to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders. These graduate teachers will be deployed to primary schools, thereby, enhancing the provision of basic education especially in our rural areas.
“We also intend to partner with state and local governments to provide financial training and loans to market women, traders and artisans, through their cooperative societies.
“We believe that this segment of our society is not only critical to our plan for growing small businesses, but it is also an important platform to create jobs and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs”, Buhari said.
He added: “Already, the compilation of registers of the poorest persons is ongoing. In the coming weeks, we will present the full programme, which will include our home-grown public primary school feeding and free education for science, technology and education students in our tertiary institutions. Indeed, this will mark a historic milestone for us as a nation.”
The initiative has however attracted mixed reactions from Nigerians with some commending the Federal Government for the initiatives, while others emphasised the need for government to refer to previous efforts and modalities needed to ensure the new initiatives produce the desired result.
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) National President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and the Secretary-General, Alade Bashir Lawal, in a statement lauded the decision of President Buhari to recruit 500,000 unemployed graduates and holders of National Certificate of Education (NCE) as teachers to curb the escalating rate of unemployment in the country.
The union said: “We also commend President for his decision to ensure that all the Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) are captured and brought under the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) because this will not only reduce the burden of manual preparation of payrolls but also curb cases of sharp practices in the system,” the union stated.
While praising the Government for its resolve to compile the list of the poorest in order to implement its cash transfer programme, the Union stressed the need for the policy to be transparent and inclusive without discrimination.
“We must equally express joy in the decision of Government to make good its promise to provide a meal per day for primary school pupils,” the union added.
The ASCSN, however, frowned at the decision of the Government that fuel subsidy would not be removed “for now” because the impression had been created that it might be removed later more-so that no provision was made for fuel subsidy in the budget estimate.
The Union canvassed the meeting of all stakeholders including labour to discuss the subsidy issue.
It argued that the price of crude oil in the international market had reduced drastically meaning that the template being used to arrive at the price of fuel should be reviewed downward commensurably.
“If that is done, it is doubtful if the price of petrol will be up to ₦70 per litre,” the union stated.
The union observed the level of deficit financing in the budget put at ₦2.22 trillion and posited that it was on the high side.
It advised the Government to work very hard in the area of looted funds recovery as that would go a long way to shore up government revenue and thereby mitigate the negative impact, which the quantum of deficit would have on the entire economy.
The union said: “On the whole, the union expressed happiness that instead of talking about austerity measures, the government has decided to put more money in the economy, a scenario that has the potential of bringing more resources to the poorest of Nigerians which would also impact positively on major economic variables.”
Besides, the union appealed for full implementation of the 2016 budget and hoped that things would surely get better at the end of the financial year.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) also lauded the Federal Government initiative on the planned recruitment of 500,000 job seekers as teachers.
Reacting to the 2016 budget presentation of President Buhari to the National Assembly at the end of its emergency Central Working Committee of the NLC in Abuja, Congress President, Ayuba Wabba, said though the NLC is yet to fully study the details of the budget, the proposed employment of teachers is a good step in the right direction.
Though the immediate past President of Trade Union of Nigeria (TUC), Peter Esele, said any move to reduce unemployment rate in the country should be applauded, he said there was the need to rely on data and situation analysis before massive recruitment is done.
His words: “I think that the President is thinking about reducing the unemployment rate by massive employment of teachers. But beyond this, I would advise that the President goes a step further by ensuring that those teachers that would be employed are functional, adequately trained in line wit the current trend in the global economy. We cannot afford to employ teachers that would not be able to teach the students in a manner that would enable them fit into the global system.”
He also added that there is the need to also examine the state of teaching infrastructure in the nation’s primary schools system.
“We also need to look at the infrastructure. Do we have the infrastructure that will support excellent teaching? To me, the greatest challenge we have is jump-starting our economy is the absence of data for productive analysis of our situation. Where is the data that support we actually need 500,000 teachers? In what area (s) of need? And how these teachers can propel the country’s development towards what direction? These are the queries that should form the focus of the quality or the types of teachers we actually need,” he said.
While government can also generate some level of employment, Esele insisted that the most important task of government is creating an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
He added: “In this light, I think government should concentrate on those sectors that can generate huge unemployment opportunities. The employment of these teachers is a little drop of water in a mighty ocean. We need more than that to confront unemployment. Our budgetary process is defined as a joke because there are no enough analysis and lack data.”
Meanwhile, Trade Union Congress (TUC) National President, Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Secretary General, Musa Lawal also commended the Federal Government for the N6.08 trillion 2016 budget.
However, the Congress in a statement said it was worried that “our challenge as a country as regards national budget is not how to propose, draft or present a good budget but its implementation. We are also worried that about N1.8 Trillion of the budget will be borrowed to fund the budget”.
TUC said: “The decision to recruit 500,000 unemployed graduates and National Certificate of Education (NCE) holders as teachers to curb the escalating rate of unemployment and to ensure that all the Federal Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) are captured and brought under the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) are laudable ideas.
“The move will not only reduce the burden of manual preparation of payrolls but also curb cases of sharp practices in the system and will also help to compile the list of the less-privileged in order to implement better transfer programme. We urge that the policy be made transparent and inclusive without discrimination.
“Additionally, we are still not comfortable with the decision of government on subsidy. The Congress therefore demand for a stakeholders’ meeting which include labour to discuss the subsidy issue and why it has become impossible for us to refine and purchase fuel for as low as N50 per litre. The price of crude oil in the international market had dropped drastically. This should have a direct effect on domestic consumption of the product.
”The proposed deficit financing at ₦2.22 trillion is certainly on the high side. This could be reduced by the recovery of stolen funds. We therefore support the government to use looted funds for the benefit of Nigerians”.
Buhari explained that the 2016 budget, as outlined, is designed to ensure that the present administration revive the nation’s economy, “deliver inclusive growth to Nigerians and create a significant number of jobs”.