Post Views: 98 •As Debate On Appropriation Bill Begins Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2020 budget estimate of N10.33tr...
•As Debate On Appropriation Bill Begins
Barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2020 budget estimate of N10.33tr before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the Senate on Wednesday, commenced debate on the document, with the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, bemoaning the capital allocations.
Senator Abdullahi lamented that the N2.14tr voted as capital expenditure in the budget, was rather too insufficient to stimulate the Nigerian economy along a trajectory that guarantees growth.
According to a statement by Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to President of the Senate, Senator Abdullahi said: “When you look at it in terms of investment, it’s a mere drop in the ocean, and therefore incapable of stimulating the economy to a higher growth trajectory.
“This has been the problem of the national economy for more than 30 years. We have been tethering on the edge; any small disturbance, either in the domestic or international scene will mean the economy crashing.
“When we realize the need to diversify the economy away from oil, we also refuse to accept the fact that we have to change our approach to planning, revenue generation, and even budgeting,” he stressed
Also contributing to the debate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central) commended both the executive and legislative arms of government for ensuring that the 2020 Appropriation Bill was laid before the National Assembly in such a manner that shows it will not be business as usual.
The lawmaker while drawing the attention of the upper chamber to legal concerns expressed by some Nigerians over the conflict likely to arise as a result of a clash in the budget cycle for 2019 and 2020, said the yet-to-be implemented aspects for the 2019 fiscal year should be collapsed into the 2020 budget.
Speaking on the loan component of the budgetary proposal, Senator Bamidele cautioned the Federal Government against securing domestic loans as proposed.
“Mr. President made it clear that the N1.7tr out of N2.4tr that would be borrowed to finance budget deficit this year will come from domestic loan, while about N700bn will come from a foreign loan.
“If we add this to what has already being borrowed from domestic sources, it means a growing figure.
“My concern is that much as government needs to borrow money from domestic sources, I fear that if care is not taken government might become a major competitor in a way that might stifle the capacity or ability of the private sector to be able to draw the necessary loan facility from the local banks. This is a call for concern and something the government needs to look into,” Bamidele said.
He added that the decision of the Federal government to increase budgetary allocation for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) from N1.5bn to N2.5bn is a gesture that finally debunks insinuations that the government of Nigeria had denied the commission access to funding on a yearly basis.
The lawmaker, who called for increased funding for the Judiciary, added that the Federal Government must consider addressing aspects that have to do with the remuneration of Judges.
At the commencement of debate on the appropriation bill also, senators made contributions on different aspects contained in the proposals, with some Senators drawing the attention of the executive arm to certain areas that needed some tweaking to enhance the economy.
Commencement of discussions on the 2020 budget, is in line with the assurance by Senate President Ahmed Lawan that the upper chamber will work hard to pass the bill into law before the end of December, following which he directed all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies to defend their budgets before the appropriate committees this month (READ MORE).