- URGES BUHARI TO USE RECOVERED FUNDS TO FUND THE DEFICIT.
You will recall that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria began its consideration of the 2017 Budget on Tuesday, 24th January 2017 with the reading of the lead debate by the Majority leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan.
The 2017 budget, which was presented to the National Assembly by His Excellency, President Muhamadu Buhari on 14th December In the sum of N7.28 Trillion, was tagged the “Budget of Recovery and Growth.” The said budget as presented is higher than the N6.07 trillion 2016 Appropriation by about 19.95 per cent.
Since the commencement of the debates on the budget on the floor of the red chamber, the distinguished lawmakers have taken their turns in analyzing the figures contained in the budget.
On his part, the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, while making his contributions to the debate on the floor of the senate onWednesday 25th January, 2017 hinged his contribution on the funding of the 2017 budget, which he considered a viable means of getting the country out of recession.
Ashafa, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport commenced his contribution by commending the Executive for bringing the Medium Term Expenditure Framework in good time as well as the Governments positive drive towards revamping of railways.
Speaking further, he pointed out that to get a clearer picture of things, there is a need to compare the 2016 Budget performance with the estimated allocations in the 2017 budget. He went on to state the 2016 budget has not done its best due to inadequate funding of capital projects.
Continuing, the Senator said that “the 2017 fiscal deficit is estimated to be about N2.7 Trillion, which is an increase of about N492 Billion from that of 2016. According to the budget office, this deficit is to be financed mainly by borrowing as well as recoveries from misappropriated public funds/assets proceeds.”
He reminded his colleagues that “sometime in June last year, the Minister of Information and Culture stated that the cash recoveries made between May 29, 2015, and May 25, 2016, including recoveries under interim forfeiture (cash and assets), amounted to about N3. 4 trillion. If these monies are truly within the coffers of the government, of what need do we have to borrow to finance the fiscal deficit? The recovered sums ought to be enough to cover up the deficit considering the fact that more recoveries are still being made.”
Ashafa urged President Buhari to tell Nigerians exactly how much funds have recovered in the fight against corruption order to ensure transparency.
Finally, the distinguished Senator from Lagos East concluded by harping on the need to ensure that all the capital projects in the 2017 budget are funded in good time to ensure that contractors are returned to site so that more Nigerians can be engaged with jobs. This he said would bring the dividends of the Change agenda to almost every Nigerian household.