Sat. Oct 31st, 2020

Enyinnaya Abaribe, minority leader of the senate, says the 2021 budget of N13.08 trillion presented to a joint session of the national assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari is unrealistic.

Speaking on Tuesday during a debate on 2021 budget estimates, Abaribe faulted the assumptions the appropriation bill was premised on.

The budget is based on an exchange rate benchmark of N379/$ and crude oil production of 1.86 million barrels per day (including 400,000 barrels of condensate) at $40 per barrel.

Capital expenditure in the budget is estimated at N2.083 trillion which represents 29 percent of the total budget. It targets three percent GDP growth and 11.95 percent inflation rate.

However, the minority leader said the budget is “nothing but old news.”

“This budget is nothing but the same. We have a budget based on unrealistic expectations. We are not also so sure what the oil situation is going to be,” he said.

“If the budget is based on assumption, I agree but why are not assuming properly. I want to go ahead and say it does not reflect the understanding of the fundamental challenges of today.

“This budget is nothing but old news. Every time the same old news, nothing new.”

On his part, George Sekibo, senator representing Rivers north-east, wondered why the funds earmarked for capital projects is less the deficit.

“The budget of 13.08 trillion has a deficit of 5.20 trillion. How can the capital project be lower than the deficit? I hope when we get the money, it is properly utilised,” he said.

Ike Ekweremadu, senator representing Enugu west, expressed dismay that the projected debt to GDP ratio is over three percent.

“For the first time, the debt to GDP Ratio is over 3%. I want the committee on finance and appropriation to find a solution to this,” he said.

“I have been very worried about the way we are going in terms of borrowing. I am concerned about the loan being given by China. They will not let you go off any of the debt because all the monies are for specific projects and if they are not done they take over,” he said.

Debate on the budget was adjourned till Wednesday.

(The Cable)

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