*Demands transparency on N1.3tr intervention fund
By Myke Uzendu, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said that the economic incompetence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is responsible for the downturn in the economy not the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
The party insisted that the economy was already stretched before the epidemic broke out and called on the federal government to immediately suspend taxes, stamp duties and make public disclosure of the expenditure schedule of the N1.3 trillion set aside for COVID-19 intervention.
PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja said that the Buhari’s administration should look inwards and prune its long list of aides, suspend all plans to increase the nation’s debt baggage and come up with ideas from experts that will stimulate the economy.
He said, “Our nation is currently in shambles with a drifting economy, a devalued currency (N380 to a dollar), collapsed infrastructure, a frightening 23.1% unemployment rate, high cost of essential goods, increased morbidity rate, reduced life expectancy and a despondent citizenry leaving our country in droves.
“This situation is worsened with the reckless foreign borrowing by the APC and its administration which today stands at an alarming $108 billion with no productive repayment plan; funds which have been exposed as being frittered and stolen by APC leaders and the cabal.
“It is instructive to note that even before the COVID-19, our economy was already in shambles and had been on a free fall in the last five years, due to the incompetence and reckless policies of the Buhari administration”.
“The PDP is worried over allegations of corruption in handling of the N1.3 trillion set aside to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the economy. Our party demands ultimate transparency. The Federal Government should come clean on the source of the intervention, the specific intervention projects where the fund will apply, the level of involvement of other tiers of government and private stakeholders, as well as the mode of disbursements and monitoring.
“Nigerians can recall that when oil price dropped to $52 per barrel, below the $57 benchmark for this year’s N10.95 trillion budget, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while briefing newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting on March 4, 2020, admitted that the government was not taking any measures but waiting, according to her, for a “reasonable time” to act.
“The result was that last week, not a single Foreign Portfolio investor participated in the Open Market Auction conducted by the CBN. That was a huge vote of no confidence on our system.
“The APC government later responded with a desperate measure of devaluing our currency to N380 to $1USD at the Investor and Exporters (1&E) window; a development that has put our economy under more stress.
“President Buhari should immediately end all tactless economic policies, accept failure, seek help and get more competent hands to work on the economy, develop strategies to strengthen the naira as well as paddle our nation out of the current economic quandary.
He urged the APC to cut down f its over-bloated government and plug waste by clipping the luxury expenditure of the presidency, cabinet ministers and other executive appointees, while channeling billions of naira to be saved to national economy.
He also called for the shelving of the 7.5% VAT, expunge padded and fraudulently duplicated items in the budget, and take steps to recover alleged N14 trillion stolen by unnamed APC cabals, including claimed N9 trillion stolen oil money which he said were detailed in the leaked NNPC memo.