Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, the Representative of Abia North Senatorial District of Abia State, on Tuesday during the debate on the proposed N13.08 trillion 2021 budget schooled opposition on economic growth, Igbere TV reports.https://igberetvnews.com/1368356/sen-kalu-schools-opposition-economic-growth-senators-debate-2021-budget/
This comes after 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.
Abaribe said; "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.
"The major challenge, as with previous budgets, is with revenue and an overly optimistic revenue target. The 2021 budget hopes that the federal government will be able to generate almost eight trillion naira. If history is anything to go by, this projection looks impossible.
"This overly optimistic position is not new in Nigeria but is part of a continuing pattern of false optimism that has put the federal government’s accounts in the deep red and the country in dire straits.
"To demonstrate this point, the observers needs to look at the performance of previous approved budget revenues and what were achieved as actual revenue.
"In 2016, Nigeria had an approved budget with a revenue of N3.855 trillion. By the end of the year, the total retained revenue was only N2.621 trillion.
"This performance was a 32 percent shortfall according to the budget implementation reports. In 2017, instead of trying to readjust to the reality of a difficult revenue situation, Government of Nigeria repeated the same overly optimistic exercise. The approved budget had a revenue of N5 trillion while actual revenue that year was only N2.37 trillion.
"This performance was a whopping 53 percent shortfall. In 2018, Federal Government of Nigeria repeated the same thing by submitted a budget that expected revenue to jump from N2.37 trillion to N7.165 trillion. By the end of the year, actual revenue was only N3.48 trillion; a 51 percent shortfall. The story was the same in 2019 and 2020. In 2019 the revenue shortfall was 41 percent and so far in 2020 the shortfall is 38 percent.
"Here we are in 2021 and the submitted budget expects revenue to be N7.886 trillion. Based on the half year numbers, Nigeria would be lucky to realise N3.3 trillion in revenue in 2020 by the end of the year. Yet the Executive expects revenue to increase by over 200 percent in 2021.
"When the Executive announces a N13 trillion budget, the ministries and agencies take it as a signal that the largess can continue. A casual look at the Appropriation Bill contains items like SUVs for chief executives and fancy office buildings for agencies who really do not need them.
"All of these things will count as “capital expenditure” without adding much to the productive ability of the economy. At a time when the Executive is on the verge of a serious fiscal crisis some of these proposed spending items are unnecessary.
"The budget betrays a lack of understanding of how modern economies function".
Igbere TV reports that 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".
The trend of disagreements continued when PDP Senators such as Ike Ekweremadu, Gabriel Suswam, Oker Jev etc made their presentations against workability of the budget.
But other APC Senators like Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi , Orji Uzor Kalu, Uba Sani, Adamu Aliero, Ibikunle Amosun etc, expressed hope in the workability of the budgetary proposals.
Strongly defending the budget, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu said, "Mr. President's 2021 budget is in line with the challenges currently facing the nation. At this time our nation is regressing into recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic you will have no option than to borrow.
"Any economy where you have serious challenges you have to resort to borrowing but the President's borrowing is being channelled to Capital projects that are on going in the North, South, East and West geopolitical zones of the nation.
Speaking further, Kalu asked , "How do you manage an economy during recession? What to do is to borrow and finance infrastructure like road projects, the 2nd Niger Bridge.
"I urge the leader of the opposition ( Abaribe) to appreciate what President Buhari is doing. For example in my constituency, Mr. President has just earmarked Twelve Billion Naira to cconstruct the Umuahia-Arochukwu Road. Do we expect him to print money to construct the road? Of course he has to borrow. So I want my colleague Abaribe to appreciate what this administration is doing, instead of saying that there is nothing new in the budget.
"There is a creation of 774,000 special public works which has been inserted into this budget, those are the kind of programmes that you need to cushion the effects of a distressed economy and you cannot cushion an economy without borrowing. Senator Abaribe is an economist and I want him to counter my submission, I will give him right to reply because we are not going to print special currency from the central bank, we have to result to borrowing.
"We should also understand that the borrowing is long term not short term borrowing. A long term borrowing facilitates the building of an economy and creates employment for the people.
"Can also see sight of a lot of socio infrastructural programmes that has been inserted into the budget like the hundred billion for small industries and medium scale industries. We also have hundred billion emarked for Agriculture and healthcare . So I urge this Senate, that due to the challenges that we are facing, we must come out clearly and look into this budget carefully and implement this budget for us to make progress as a nation. Our economy cannot afford to collapse, our economy cannot have any other option other than growth. We must get the economy back to the part of growth. Mr. President and his team have done the right thing with this budget proposal, we must show solidarity by doing the right thing. Let us set aside our political party differences we must stand as Nigerians . It doesn't matter if you belong to the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the People's Democratic Party (PDP) we are all looking for the same thing which is "economic growth" and that should be our rallying point not playing politics we should be truthful in our deliberations and contributions." Senator Kalu said.
The debate continues Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Nigerians, particularly the youths who naturally should know better are easily impressed and deceived because they are ill-informed, a situation which the ruling class as milking for all it's worth and to their advantage.
Everything they are uttering up there are simply trashes conjured from voodoo economics occasioned by a need to also cover up their obnoxious and humongous allowances.
The receipts from the Customs/Ports and FIRS alone would fund our budget bar any looting from them. Then throw in the revenue from oil after blocking the theft of our crude by the same ruling class and you'd understand that our budget can even get higher.