By Godson Ikiebey-

The senate minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has said that the 2020 budget proposal is not sustainable.

The senator said this on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at the commencement of a debate on the general principles of the 2020 budget.

You will recall that on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari presented a N10.33 trillion budget proposal to a joint session of the national assembly.

But speaking on the floor of the senate, the minority leader noted that debt servicing is higher than capital expenditure.

He said although, the senators have promised to work with the executive, they should also look at the facts of the budget. He said: 

“Two assumptions are critical for this government. First, the assumption on oil prices. I know that our people were happy when there seem to be a little problem in the middle east with Iran which will lead to a spike in the oil price but that seem to have gone down which means that our projection for the cost of oil may also be off the mark. 

“Second one is our projection for the production levels daily. Last year, the average production level was 1.8m bpd. Why don’t we just keep it there? Why must we go up to 2.1 only to be disappointed at the end of the day.

“I know that you have promised the executive that we are going to work very well with the executive to produce the budget but I plead with my colleagues to look at the facts. You can’t run away from facts.

“The facts say this is not a sustainable budget”. 

He said that the proposed estimates is a budget of taxation.

“Very many things were put and jumbled together – budget of fiscal consolidation, investing in critical infrastructure and so forth. In other words, putting everything together like that reminds us of what Shakespeare said ‘a tale full of sound and fury signifies nothing’

“I want to suggest a name to those who wrote this speech for the president that this is nothing but a budget of taxation.

“This is a budget that is based on taxation. Its is based on 7.5 percent increase in VAT, based on several other increases. Debt servicing as a component is higher than capital expenditure. Two trillion naria for capital expenditure, N2.4 trillion for debt servicing.

“The projected growth that they put in the budget was 1.9 percent, less than the population growth of 2.6 percent. So, if we look at it globally, we are still struggling”. 

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