Senators disagree over Buhari’s 2021 budget proposals

By Ignatius Okorocha

Senators have expressed optimism that despite the challenges faced by the nation’s economy, prudent management of our scarce resources would see the country bounce back on the part of greatness while others queried how the nation will continue to survive on borrowing to finance its budgets.

Reacting to some of the issues raised in the 2021 budget proposals by President Muhammadu Buhari at a joint sitting of Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday, Sen. Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West) commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to continue the execution of ongoing projects in the 2021 budget.

Adeyemi stated this while fielding questions from journalists in Abuja.

According to him, the President’s focus on the completion of all on-going projects was fantastic.

He said Buhari’s decision not to initiate new projects, until ongoing projects were completed was uncommon attributes not associated with a an average Nigerian politician.

“A typical Nigerian politician will not be thinking of completing ongoing projects, they will be thinking of new projects.

“If these projects are completed and we network the north, south, west and east of the country, there will be boom on economic activities.

“Because the economists are telling us that next year may not be too friendly economically and it is a global problem.

“We may not feel the pain as much, because the policies that are required as a cushion for a global economy recession is already put on black and white for people to know that the government was conscious of it.

“The prayer is that let them implement all that they have said and in terms of the policies, don’t look at the money, don’t look at the figure, look at the policy put in place to galvanize the economic activities of the country.

“Once you have good road network in the country, rail system, and other infrastructural, these are key to economic boom”.

Sen. Obinna Ogba (PDP Ebonyi) also reacting to the 2021 budget estimates said he was happy President Buhari directed that all Ministers and Heads of Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must appear to defend their budgets before National Assembly.

This, Ogba said, would help eradicate the reasons why budgets are delayed for passage.

He, however, said the executive needs to provide solution to challenge of revenue generation in the country.

“Not that the country does not have revenue, but these revenue go down the drain, what they account for the country is not what is actually generated.

“Effort should be made to transfer all money generated, directly to Federation Account and when that is done, you will discover that the issue of revenue will not be a problem in the country”.

He said he was surprised that the N100 billion earmark as zonal intervention fund had remain the same over the years.

“I am surprised that the 100 billion earmarked for zonal interventions projects for the 2021 budget estimates is not increased.

“It has always been like that, I am surprised that it is not increased, that interventions fund need to be increased.

“Because what comes to my constituency is N200 million and when you come to my constituency you will see the projects, we did with the money.

“In my community, where I come from, you cannot see Federal Government projects apart from the constituency projects”, Ogba said.

Similarly, Sen. Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba Central) said: “I am disturbed by high amount of deficit, we have the Covid-19 challenges and so many other challenges this time that we had to contain with but I am pleased that we are all determined by the MDAs and National Assembly has said it is determined to give Nigeria the budget that can be sustained and provide better value for Nigerians.

“On borrowing he said as an economics borrowing is not the issue, it is he use of the money that you have borrowed for. If we are going to use e money just to consume then it is better we not borrow because it ups be very challenging but if we are going to use the money for the purpose of generating more revenue that means to committee it to projects that old generate more revenue. Then I think it is worth borrowing but do we have option at this point in time. My take is that we don’t seem to have the option.

“That is why you know e kind of deficit that we have with the kind of income, our capacity to generate income that we are experiencing there is need to do budgeting with borrowing so at we can survive. We also need to work so hard to make sure that whatever we borrow will meet the terms of the loan.”

On his part, Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume ( Borno South) stated: “The budget is that of critical survival especially under this period of Coronavirus pandemic but I am glad that the budget is conscious of the precarious position the majority of Nigerians who are poor are into. Therefore the social investment programme is my area of concern and the issue of security which has bedeviled us for years is also a matter of concern”.

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