By Musa Adamu
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has advocated for the consolidation of the gains of the 2020 budget in that of 2021, especially on creation of jobs for the many unemployed in the country.
Lawan made the call in his opening remarks at the presentation of the 2021 budget estimates to a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is our hope that the 2021 budget will be targeted at consolidation of gains made by the 2020 budget. The 2020 budget was targeted at sustaining growth and jobs.”
He said the implementation of the 2020 budget has shown a remarkable improvement over the previous years.
“Certainly, the injection of funds for the various programmes and projects had helped our economy. We expect that before the end of this fiscal year, the 2020 budget would have been implemented 100 per cent,this will be a historic feat. We need to not only protect jobs but create more,” Lawan said.
He said the eventual passage of the Appropriation Bill 2020 and signing into law in record time was a clear testimony of the benefits of the Legislature – Executive working together for the good of the people.
Lawan, however, said the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the nation’s plans, as it shutdown economies, and affected the income and expenditure projections.
This, he said, necessitated a review of the entire budget, which the National Assembly did with profound sense of purpose, duty and patriotism.
“We were convinced that the steps we took went a long way in stabilizing our economy, and in ensuring that funds were provided for critical programmes.
“As we are about to begin another fiscal plan, we shall be influenced by the desire to consolidate on our gains, coming from the hard lessons of the pandemic, and on the urgency of sustaining our diversification programmes.”
He expressed the determination of National Assembly to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.
The early passage of the 2021 appropriation he said,would continue to enable planning and enhance productivity and efficiency in the management and application of resources.
“Certainly, the injection of funds for the various programmes and projects had helped our economy.
“The National Assembly approved the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), a Plan of the Federal Government, to address the economic challenges of today.
“All efforts should be made to implement the plan, as a number of schemes are designed to keep our Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) afloat.”
Lawan said there was need to re-examine critically the revenue generation, remittances processes of government as the nation revenues plummeted.
This, he said made the government to resort to borrowing to fund the development of some critical infrastructure.
“Recent interactions between our Committees on Finance and National Planning and Economic Matters, with over 200 revenue generating and collection agencies have revealed so much inefficiencies in their systems. It was revealed that government loses so much money as a result.
“Similarly, there are so much leakages of moneys that could have easily been available for national development. Due to inadequate revenue, government has to borrow in order to finance its projects.”
Lawan said it was equally important that Nigeria diversifies its sources of funding for programmes and projects.
“We need to encourage and promote more private sector participation in developing some of our physical infrastructure.
“We could explore the Public Private Partnership (PPP), Build Operate Transfer (BOT), and many other funding options. This is with a view to reducing our level of borrowing.”
He assured President Muhammadu Buhari of the readiness of Senators and Members of the ninth National Assembly to work on the 2021 budget estimates in record time.
He said the National Assembly would be thorough in its scrutiny of the 2021 budget estimates.
“Our goal is to have a budget that will address our developmental needs in all ramifications”, Lawan said.