2020 budget: N4.63t debt service, deficit okay, say Reps

Our Reporter

 

THE Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, James Faleke, has said there is no need for consternation on the part of Nigerians over the N4.63 trillion earmarked for deficit budget financing and debt servicing, out of the proposed budget of N10.33 trillion for the year 2020.

Faleke spoke with The Nation in a chat on Thursday at the National Assembly.

The 2020 budget is proposing N2.45 for debt servicing and N2.18 as  deficit. But the lawmaker said there is no need for fear over the figure.

On if he should be concerned that the huge amount was going out of the budget for such items, he said: “For us, yes, I should be worried as a finance person. But Nigeria is still stable, the debt service is still good compared to other nations as to our GDP.

“You see, when you inherit a bastardised economy, you try to rebuild it. Buhari inherited a bastardised economy, and it takes time to get things sorted out. It’s not magic, there cannot be magic in it. This is exactly what is happening.”

While speaking on the implementation of the budget, Faleke said: “The essence of having our budget to start from January to December is for it to be properly implemented.

“Before now, we’ve always passed our budget at any time. Its affecting the business world. Those in the  business sector and those in other sectors of the economy. Of course, they look at the policy of government to plan their businesses.

“Majority of them have their own budget January to December, while Government starts its own budget, at times, in April or June, or even  July…no time frame.

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“Now, every business man or woman in Nigeria can plan knowing when the government will release the budget. They’ll know the government policy on certain things, and it will start from January.”

According to the lawmaker, a January to December budget circle will assist in revenue collection.

“I can tell you, as the Chairman Finance committee, one of the major reasons is to help monitor the revenue collection from January to December.

“Unlike what we used to have, a carryover…. Assuming we pass this budget in July 2020, what it means is that the revenue that must have accrued from January to July of 2020, must have been used to service 2019.

“But now, if you have the revenue from January to July being used to service budget of 2020, you’ll see that the performance will be there. And we as committee on Finance will be firm and see that we have the adequate revenue paid into the accounts,” he said.

On fear expressed especially by the opposition that the budget may be rubber stamped, Faleke said: “We cannot be rubber stamping. For the fact that we’re APC, in the National Assembly and the Executive does not mean that we don’t know what Nigerians want. Our own as a Parliament , is to work with government to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians .”

 

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