By Chibisi Ohakah
The 2020 Appropriation Bill submitted to the national assembly last week by President Muhammadu Buhari scaled second reading on Tuesday at the floor of the senate. But the upper chamber subsequently adjourned plenary till 29th November, 2019, to enable ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government defend their respective budget proposals before the committees of the senate.
The senate president, Ahmad Lawan, had identified revenue generation as a major challenge of the budget. He pointed out that successful implementation of the budget may be difficult to realise until proactive measures are taken to address the situation.
“We are seriously challenged in the area of generating revenues, and it appears that until something drastic is done, this shortage of revenue will continue to militate against the implementation of the budget. We have to continuously engage the revenue generating agencies and schedule quarterly evaluation to be handled by our relevant committee, particularly the Senate Committee on Finance,” he said.
According to him, there is serious challenge when only 30% is devoted to capital budget, stressing that it is an improvement from what the country inherited from 2014, when the allocation was 15%.
On recurrent expenditure, he noted that Nigeria has over 600 agencies of government, adding they all have to pay.
“Probably, we need to look at how we can streamline the agencies; that is not to say that we will lay off workers, but we must establish the functionality and usefulness of these agencies. We also need to look at the direction of Public Private Partnership, especially in the laying of physical infrastructure. We can concession our roads, instead of taking money from China,” he said.
On investments, Lawan said the Nigeria cannot realistically attract even domestic investments in any sector without security; not to mention direct foreign investments into our country.
“Our soldiers and other personnel of security agencies, who are exposed to dangers need to be properly remunerated. Their allowances must be given to them at the right time, because, these are incentives that we owe them,” the senate president said.