The Senate on Wednesday commenced debate on the N10.33 trillion Appropriation Bill 2020 presented by President Muhammadu Buhari a day earlier to the National Assembly.
The proposed budget elicited comments from the lawmakers on its different aspects, particularly the revenue projections and their feasibility as well as the capital budget figures.
Some of the lawmakers during the debate on the proposals drew the attention of the executive arm of government to certain areas that needed some tweaking to enhance the economy.
One of such lawmakers, the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, flawed the N2.14 trillion proposed as capital expenditure for the fiscal year.
According to him, the amount was insufficient to stimulate the Nigerian economy along a trajectory that guarantees growth.
He said: “The capital budget is too small. When you look at it in terms of investment, it’s a mere drop in the ocean, and therefore incapable of stimulating the economy to a higher growth trajectory.
“This has been the problem of the national economy for more than 30 years. We have been tethering on the edge; any small disturbance, either in the domestic or international scene will mean the economy crashing.
“When we realise the need to diversify the economy away from oil, we also refuse to accept the fact that we have to change our approach to planning, revenue generation and even budgeting” , he added.
In his remarks, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele commended both the executive and legislative arms of government for the timely laying of the 2020 Appropriation Bill was before the National Assembly and expressed the hope that this would help in improved budget performance.
The lawmaker, while drawing the attention of the upper chamber to legal concerns expressed by some Nigerians over the conflict likely to arise as a result of a clash in the budget cycle for 2019 and 2020, said the yet-to-be implemented aspects for the 2019 fiscal year would be aligned into the 2020 budget.
Speaking on the borrowing provisions in the budgetary proposal, Senator Bamidele cautioned the Federal Government on domestic borrowing stock as proposed.
He elaborated: “Mr. President made it clear that the N1.7 trillion out of N2.4 trillion that would be borrowed to finance budget deficit this year will come from domestic loan, while about N700 billion will come from foreign loan.
“If we add this to what has already being borrowed from domestic sources, it means a growing figure.
“My concern is that much as government needs to borrow money from domestic sources, I fear that if care is not taken government might become a major competitor in a way that might stifle the capacity or ability of the private sector to be able to draw the necessary loan facility from the local banks. This is a call for concern and something government needs to look into”, the lawmaker added.
He noted further that the decision of the Federal government to increase budgetary allocation for the National Human Rights Commission from N1.5 billion to N2.5 billion was a demonstration that the government was committed to funding the commission.
The lawmaker, who called for increased funding for the Judiciary, added that the Federal Government must consider addressing aspects that have to do with remuneration of judges in the country.