By Musa Adamu
Senators on Tuesday made divergent opinions on workability or otherwise of the proposed N13.08 trillion 2021 budget.
While most of the PDP senators who contributed to the debate, picked holes in the budgetary proposals, their APC counter parts said as bad as the situations on ground are, the budgetary proposals can still bring about required recoveries in various sectors of the Nation’s economy as anticipated by President Muhamnadu Buhari who christened the budget as one of “recovery and resilience”.
First to speak was the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi ( APC Kebbi North) who veered off by describing those clamouring for restructuring of the country as people seeking for dismemberment of the country before addressing the budgetary proposals and projections.
“Mr. President distinguished colleagues, we are all witnesses to the cacophony of voices and opinions of some leading members of our society, our compatriots who out of genuine concerns, frustration, sense of entitlement or sheer political bravado, call for the dismemberment of this nation or for public disobedience through which they hope to bring down the government of the day, thereby truncating our hard won democratic journey.
“The constitutional reform process is there in the National Assembly to satisfy the earnings and aspirations of Nigerians for restructuring and reshaping our federation to make it an inclusive and all-embracing polity.
“We as Senators of the Federal Republic, should not contemplate the dangerous and destabilizing temptations of dismembering our federation. We must stand by the honour of our status, our convictions and our oath of office which is to preserve and protect the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians, as a whole.
“We are obliged to place the social and economic challenges we face today in their proper historical perspectives with a View to determining the best course of action for our people and our nation at this point in history”, he said.
Specifically, while the Senate Leader on the budget proposals said
“It is important to note at the outset, that this proposal is not strange to the leadership of the National Assembly and the Committees of Finance and National Planning. All the parameters were discussed and agreed upon, at least in principle.
“What remains for us is to closely examine the contents and the details in order to sort things out and smoothen the rough edges.
A budget deficit of #5.19 trillion represents 3.64% of GDP and is therefore above the threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.
Even though the deficit is covered by N4.28 trillion of new borrowing and funds obtainable from privatization proceeds and multilateral and bilateral sources, it is important for our committees on Finance to raise the matter for the National Assembly to permit this increase, as specified in the extant law, particularly given the special circumstances which made this necessary.
“It is also important to note that a budget deficit of this size requiring more indebtedness is not healthy for the long-term development of the country, but this must be tolerated now because of the challenges of the times”.
The Senate Minority Leader , Enyinnaya Abaribe ( PDP Abia South), in his own contribution , tore the budget proposals into pieces by saying that the budget is nothing but old news.
“The 2021 Appropriation Bill proposes to spend N13.082 trillion, with expected revenue of N7.886 trillion and a deficit of N5.196 trillion. As with the other budgets over the last few years, it looks impractical and unimplementable.”