- As Senators express doubts on meeting with N8.155tr target
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Senate Thursday , tasked the executive arm of government to brace up for aggressive revenue drive in meeting up with the N8.155trillion projected as expected revenues for financing of the N10.33trillion total expenditure profile of the 2020 budget proposals .
This according to the Upper legislative Chamber, is very necessary to avoid poor performance that characterised the N8.9trillion 2019 budget implementation admitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to be just 58% due to shortfalls in projected revenues.
Submissions to this effect , were made by Senators in their contributions to debate on the general principles of the 2020 budget proposals which will end on Tuesday next week.
First to harp on the need for aggressive revenue drive, was the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha ( PDP Taraba South), who though applauded the increase made on the Value Added Tax ( VAT) from 5 to 7.5% but said mucha may still be needed to be done to get the required revenues for the implementation of the 2020 budget .
“The budget proposals are very ambitious in terms of proposed allocations but there is difference between allocations and revenues.
“If revenues are not generated as projected, definitely , allocations will suffer from cash backing “, he said .
Similarly Senator Mathew Urhoghide ( PDP Edo South ) in his submission said poor revenue generation which has been the bane of effective implementation of yearly budgetary proposals , must be tackled by blocking all the loopholes if 2020 budget is to succeed .
“ We must put our mouth where our money is , meaning that , as parliamentarians , more thorough oversight functions must be carried out on all revenue generating agencies “, he said .
Arguing along the same line, Senator Ayo Akinyelure ( PDP Ondo Central ) in his submission , said “ All agencies of government saddled with revenue generation should be thoroughly monitored and quarterly assessed on whether they are meeting revenue target set for them or not “.
Senator Dauda Yaro ( PDP Adamawa South ) in his own contribution , said since the possibility of not meeting up to N8.155trillion targeted total revenue of the budget , the entire budget size should be reduced to the revenue.
According to him, projecting N8.155trillion as total targeted revenue and N10.33trillion as proposed total aggregate expenditure , indicate spending beyond ones earnings which is increasing deficit component of the budget on yearly basis .
Other Senators like Istifanus Gyang ( PDP Plateau North), Kola Balogun ( PDP Oyo South), Ibikunle Amosun( APC Ogun Central) etc, also called for serious revenue drive in financing the budget .
However , while most of the 26 Senators who contributed to debate on general principles of the 2020 budget , call for aggressive revenue drive, some of them in their submissions, kicked against the VAT increase .
Specifically, Senator Christopher Ekpeyong (PDP Akwa Ibom North West ), described it as anti people just as Senator Onor Sandy Ojang ( PDP Cross River Central ) , described it as regressive taxation .
According to him, increase in VAT is like a short cut to revenue earnings with attendant consequences of shrinking the economy and highing the unemployment rate .
But Senators like Chukwuka Utazi ( PDP Enugu North) , Kabir Barkiya (APC Katsina Central), Ibikunle Amosun (APC Ogun Central), Ibrahim Shekarau (APC Kano Central), Abdul-Kwari Sulyman (APC Kaduna North) etc, submitted that the budget proposals are realistic and achievable.