OrderPaperToday – The Senate on Tuesday started debate on the 2021 budget proposal as most senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who spoke criticized it.

President Muhammadu Buhari presented the N13.08trillion budget on October 8 at the joint session of the National Assembly.

The ministry of works and housing like previous budgets got the highest allocation of N404billion.

PDP senators criticize fundamentals of 2021 budget
Capital allocation in 2021 budget proposal

After presentation of the budget details by leader of the senate, Yahaya Abdullahi, the minority leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia) described the budget as “unrealistic” because it does not reflect current fundamental challenges the country is battling with.

For him, there is nothing new about the budget.

Abaribe said: “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.

“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.”

Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue) in his contribution lamented the budget deficit and level of borrowing, noting that the planned creation of jobs by President Muhammadu Buhari is not attainable.

“The budget is themed ‘economy recovery and resilience.’ It means something has gone wrong and you want to repair something that has gone wrong. This is not a partisan issue. This is about us Nigerians.

“Most of the time, when you do domestic borrowing, you crowd out the private sector. Mr. President’s intention of creating jobs is not actualizable (sic).

“We are literally violating the laws we have set out. The leader mentioned in page 4 that the budget is not sustainable. For every N100 earned, N60 goes to debt servicing. When will borrowing end?”

The immediate past deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu (PDP, Enugu) spoke on debt ratio, social intervention and value to cost propositions.

He expressed worry over external borrowings particularly from China.

“For the first time, we debt to GDP Ratio is over 3%. I want the committee on finance and appropriation should find a solution to this. I have been very worried about the way we are going in terms of borrowing.

“I am concerned on 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”, Ekweremadu said.

breakdown of debt servicing allocation in the 2021 budget
Debt service breakdown in 2021 budget

According to him, monies allocated for social intervention projects have not yielded any gain. He advised the federal government to deploy more innovative approaches.

“The other issue is the issue of social intervention. We have spent a lot of money on it but we still have young men who are looking for jobs. We need to deal with the real issues by investing in ICT, modern Agriculture.

“We must create lifestyle centred around agriculture and in modern farms. Until we do that, it will remain unattractive to our young people.”

On value to cost, he noted that while the government is making certain expenditures on health centres, they are however not put to use because there are no doctors or nurses. He urged the government to look into it.

Senate president Ahmad Lawan had promised that the National Assembly will consider and pass the budget speedily in order to retain the January to December fiscal circle attained in the previous budget

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