Saraki: What FG must do for 2019 budget to succeed

OrderPaperToday – President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has listed steps that must be taken for the 2019 budget to be successful.

Saraki also lamented the under performance of the 2018 budget, which according to him, was because of the independent revenues which is straining government’s ability to meet its expenditure projections.

Giving a welcome speech at the presentation of 2019 appropriation bill by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, Saraki highlighted several areas that needs to be resolved to have a successful implementation of the budget.

The President of the red chamber suggested that the 2018 Budget proposal and future ones be accompanied by a Finance Bill and submitted to the federal chambers, “which would give credence to the financial proposals of government. It is one way of establishing credibility in projected revenues.”

He also advised that the country shift focus to generating as much money as required for spending, for recurrent needs, so loans can be used solely to fund capital projects.

He said: “I have always stressed the importance of setting realistic revenue targets, because we cannot afford to rely on borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure.”

Another challenge identified is the huge cost deductions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

He noted that net oil inflow into the Federation Account is significantly lower than projected due to deductions by way of unappropriated petroleum subsidy.

He said: “I have on many occasions stressed that it might be better to capture petroleum subsidy as a line item in the Budget if government must continue to finance it. We cannot shy away from this issue. The current system is opaque at best, fraught with inefficiencies and is a sure pathway to corruption.

“Estimated deductions for petroleum subsidy claims by NNPC year-to-date can neither be explained by the higher PMS landing cost nor the increased supply of petroleum to the domestic market. We can better manage these by returning to a more transparent practice of capturing the items as against the erroneous and illegal approach of cost recovery for payment for importation of petroleum products.”

Saraki urged the federal government to match budget credibility with predictability.

He also used the opportunity to ask the President to pass several constitution alteration bills including Sections 82 and 122 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which he believes will engender timeliness in the formulation and approval of annual budgets as well as restore the country to a January to December fiscal year.

Senator Bukola equally requested that Mr. President prioritise the assent of important bills such as Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, National Transport Commission Bill and Federal Road Authority Bill among others.

On Buhari’s Social Investment Programme initiative, Saraki stated that it is “unlikely to have a sustainable, measurable impact that is free of corruption and abuse. You will agree with me that such a programme should carry no whiff of politicisation.”

The President of the upper chamber assured that the National Assembly will continue to work with the executive to ensure that “whatever is required through legislation and oversight to plug revenue leakages and ramp up revenues is given priority.”

Read the full address by Mr. Saraki here

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