The senate minority leader, Mr. Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, has said that the proposed N10.33 trillion 2020 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the national assembly on Tuesday, October 8, is not sustainable.
Speaking on Wednesday during the deliberations of the Appropriation Bill, Abaribe said the 2020 budget is “nothing but a budget of taxation.”
He picked holes in the name given to the budget, the increase in VAT as well as the increase in the production of crude oil.
“Very many things were put and jumbled together: budget of fiscal consolidation, investing in critical infrastructure…and so forth. In other words, putting everything together like that reminds us of what Shakespeare said: a tale full of sound and fury signifies nothing,” he said.
Abaribe, however, re-emphasised the proposed name for the bill.
Abaribe re-emphasised the proposed name for the bill saying: “This is a budget that is based on taxation. It is based on 7.5 per cent increase in VAT, based on several other increases.”
He added: “How would you talk about job creation when you do not invest in what will create jobs? Debt servicing as a component is higher than capital expenditure. Two trillion (naira) for capital expenditure, 2.4 trillion (naira) for debt servicing.
“The projected growth that they put in the budget was 1.9 per cent, less than the population growth of 2.6 per cent. So, if we look at it globally, we are still struggling. We may have to take over and direct the economic policy of this government, having seen that they have not done anything and they have failed.
The senator also said the nation’s projection for the cost of oil may be off the mark.
“I know that our people were happy when there seem to be a little problem in the Middle East with Iran which will lead to a spike in the oil price. But that seems to have gone down, which means that our projection for the cost of oil may also be off the mark.
“Second one is our projection for the production level daily. Last year, the average production level was 1.8 million barrel per day. Why don’t we just keep it there? Why must we go up to 2.1 only to be disappointed at the end of the day?
He therefore pleaded with his colleagues to look at facts before accepting the bill which he said is not sustainable.
“I know that you have promised the executive that we are going to work very well with the executive to produce the budget but I plead with my colleagues to look at the facts. You cannot run away from facts.
“The facts say this is not a sustainable budget. The facts say that if we need to change, we must be able to look at the critical fundamentals of this budget speech and make adjustments as due,” he said.
Toeing Abaribe’s line, former governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, said he was worried by the budget deficit.
“I commend Mr. President for bringing an ambitious budget; the deficit worries me, there is a correspondence borrowing increase; we need to do something in this Chamber by way of legislation to address borrowing,” said Suswam who represents Benue northeast senatorial zone.
However, the senator representing Niger North, Mr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, said the government was on the right trajectory.
“This is a budget of continued change. This government is on the right trajectory.
“This budget has addressed how the micro and medium small enterprises will play a key role in building the Nigerian economy.
“This budget will continue the change and ensure our citizens see a better economy,” he said.
Responding, Lawan described Abaribe’s presentation as “brilliant” but “laced with inaccurate statistical information.”